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Two Roads Added To Embargo List

By Staff | Mar 26, 2009

The Spring thaw is welcomed in many cases, but for Palo Alto County, the thaw, coupled with some heavy road traffic, is once again creating problems and concerns for the Palo Alto County Supervisors and the county’s Secondary Road Department. Concerns over a pair of roads not already under the Spring embargo were discussed during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz explained to the board that he needed to add two roads to the current list of embargoed roadways, but he could not do so without the board’s approval.

“We’ve got a road that has already suffered tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage in the last few days,” Fantz explained. “This is on B14, starting a mile west of Graettinger and running four miles west. There were 28 blowups on that road when I went out there Friday to look at it. I’m recommending we embargo it to six tons to try and stop the damage.”

According to Supervisor Ron Graettinger, the road was damaged by heavy grain transport during the past week from the local elevators.

“Could we send out a letter to the elevators around this time of year, sort of asking them to perhaps schedule the big grain movements in advance?” asked Board Chair Ed Noonan. “Otherwise, something like this happens and we have to close a road to them.”

“That’s a good idea,” Fantz agreed.

“I’m sure that the ethanol plants could make schedules up to plan for something like this,” agreed Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

“We hoped embargoes would help with this, but we’re learning as we go,” Fantz pointed out.

“I’d like to try the letters,” Noonan said. “We need to generate good will with all of this, too.”

Fantz then explained that the first mile of the Fairville pavement, B20, east off the Depew road, was breaking up as well, and a six-ton embargo needed to be placed on that roadway as well. The board members agreed to both recommendations and enacted the embargoes on B14 and B20 until further notice.

In a related issue, Noonan asked the engineer about the possibility of exemption permits for feed deliveries to a pair of livestock confinements using roads that are under embargoes. Both confinements are located near Ayrshire. One confinement is located on N28 north of Ayrshire, while the second is east and south of the community. The second could be reached via gravel roads, but the first cannot.

“To me, hauling grain out on one of these embargoed roads is a whole different thing that hauling in two loads of feed a week,” Noonan observed.

“I’d agree with that,” Fantz answered.

Fantz pointed out that when Secondary Roads has advance notice, they would work on a gravel road to enable larger loads to be hauled at this time of year. “It’s easier to repair a gravel road that a pavement, but we’d prefer to not have to be repairing all the time.”

As the discussion continued, Noonan asked Fantz how long the embargoes would last. Noting that they had been in effect just over one week, and that the original target length has been three weeks, Fantz cautiously estimated two weeks longer, but reserved final judgment based on weather and road conditions at that time.

“I guess what I’m asking for is some board guidance on when to issue exemptions and when not to,” Fantz said. “I would recommend that if an applicant lives on an embargoed road and are hauling feed in, we could go ahead and grant the exemption, but I wouldn’t grant exemptions for major hauling operations.”

The board endorsed the recommendation, and Supervisor Hofstad added a suggestion to have those hauling feed reduce their speed while on the road, a provision Fantz agreed to pas on to the applicants.

In other business, the board approved a pair of overhead electrical construction permits. The first, to Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, was for construction along 490 Street in Section 27 of Rush Lake Township and the second permit was granted to Alliant Energy for a line along 480 Street and crossing 430 Avenue, in Sections 9-10 of Rush Lake Township.