While the above average temperatures of late may be welcome by the majority of residents of Palo Alto County, there is a down side to the temperate weather: easily damaged road ways throughout the area.
County Engineer Joel Fantz raised the subject of a short-term road embargo during the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 31.
"We may need to do some short-term embargoes for a week or two weeks," Fantz stated.
"I think if we need to do it, you're just going to have to go ahead and do it," said Supervisor Ron Graettinger. "You should let the elevators know and others like that."
Supervisor Ed Noonan asked Fantz if he could pick a temperature at which a road embargo would go into effect, as a general rule.
"Well, we're above that temperature now," Fantz said. "Normally, what you see happening now happens in March. It's not refreezing, so it leaves me in a little bit of a quandary on what to do."
He added that in past years with more normal temperatures, a typical time frame would present itself and give the county some "advance warning" of a springtime warm-up.
"This is jumping us by two months," said Fantz.
Fantz noted that the road embargo program has been very beneficial for Palo Alto County in the past.
"We have six-inch concrete pavements that cannot hold up to the farm traffic. And the weakest time of year is when the frost goes out and you have no base. We have multiple roads where we have had heavy hauling, and just like that, within a week, the trucks have caused $300,000 worth of damage," Fantz explained.
Graettinger noted that it took only one day of heavy truck traffic on the "Graettinger road" last spring to cause extensive damage to the roadway.
Fantz agreed, "We spent an entire summer patching the Graettinger road after that one day of heavy hauling," said Fantz. "The embargo program plus the bonding program have made a tremendous difference."
Noonan wondered if it could be made known that the road embargo would be lifted in time.
"I just don't want people thinking that we're slapping it on now, and keeping it on until Apr. 1," he suggested.
"Yes, it would be short-term road embargo, and we would still be looking for the normal embargo in that normal time frame later this spring," Fantz said. "I need to talk to all my foremen so we can keep an eye on it, and when we need to do it, go ahead and do it."