Jobs at risk without Colona road project

Originally Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014, 8:12 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2014, 11:11 pm
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By Lisa Hammer,

COLONA -- At least 25 jobs could be at risk if the city of Colona doesn't support a traffic light on U.S. 6 at East 550th Street and the entrance to Stonebridge subdivision, as part of a state-mandated road realignment project.

Todd Stoner, vice president of Tennant Truck Lines, which moved from Orion to Colona in 2012, told the city council this week that his firm seriously would consider moving 25 outdoor warehousing jobs in a second company, Tennant Yard Management, from Colona if the council doesn't support the stoplight.

He also said the firm is considering adding another eight to 11 outdoor warehousing jobs, which could be at risk.

Mr. Stoner said about 85 Tennant trucks go in and out of the business each day, and three nearby businesses add about another 100 trucks to the traffic. "A stoplight is a must for an acceptable level of safety," he said.

Aldermen have expressed concern because the city might have to fork out $750,000 to $1 million for the work. The original Stonebridge developer walked away from the subdivision project, which then was taken over by Blackhawk Bank & Trust.

The city, which is seeking bids on the project, has a $2 million state grant and another $150,000 for culvert extension under U.S. 6.

Mayor Rick Lack said actual costs for the city's part of the project won't be known until bids are opened March 6. He expects the council to take action on the bids on March 10 or March 24. He agrees the stoplight is necessary.

"There have been a lot of changes and delays caused by many factors and because of that, the city's cost has ballooned to a degree that I don't know that the city can afford to proceed without any further assistance," Mayor Lack said. "A number of council members are concerned, and rightfully so."

Unless the work is done this year, when there are other closings on U.S. 6 for seven culverts and a bridge, the city would incur extra staging costs, officials have said.

The city and Tennant are seeking other grants and funds to help with the costs.

"We need buy-in from the city council to pursue with legislative contacts," Mr. Stoner said. 'If not, we would seriously consider moving our outdoor warehousing operation to another community."

He said Tennant is willing to forego part of its tax-increment-financing incentives to help with the project.

Erik Jones, owner of the nearby I-80 Equipment, said he also wants the stoplight. "I would support the effort and think it's something that needs to be completed for safety and to help with the flow of the traffic, but it would not affect employment or jobs," he said. "For us, it's just the safety."

Mr. Stoner said when Tennant began looking to relocate from Orion, Colona was by far its top choice after looking at two sites in Illinois and one in Iowa. Wednesday, he said Tennant never would have moved to Colona if it knew the stoplight was "going to be in play."

Mr. Stoner told the council he knew of a developer of a high-end gas station and convenience store who is interested in Colona but not without the stoplight.

The mayor said he's aware of the potential for the new gas station but could not comment.


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