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Secondary Road Priorities Topic Of Discussion

By Staff | Feb 17, 2011

A series of priorities in terms of what should be done with the county’s secondary road system was the topic of discussion between the county’s road foremen and the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The discussion was part of the Supervisor’s weekly board meeting at the Palo Alto County Courthouse.

The four district foremen of the Secondary Road Department, Vince Lammers, Galen Dykstra, Mike Flaherty and Mike Hartman, along with Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz listened as the supervisors spoke about what they felt were the priorities for the department and its workers.

“My biggest priority would be to see more blading being done, but then, how do you get more time to do that,” observed Board Chair Keith Wirtz. “I also think we made need to approach tile repairs differently.”

According to Wirtz, he would like to see priority gravel roads graded weekly, but understood the demands on the workers’ time.

“This is your chance to tell us what we’re doing wrong,” noted Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“In my area, the priorities would be the Transfer Station Road, the River Road and the Lake Road,” noted Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “I’d like to see it, that when the conditions are right, that every machine is out grading and we could have every road in the county graded in two days time.”

“To grade every road would take three to three and a half days,” Galen Dykstra replied.

“And, I’d like to see you guys get the grass off the edge of the roads so the water can run off,” Hofstad added.

“We do need to have some grass there to help control erosion,” Dykstra pointed out.

“We’d like to hear your suggestions,” Noonan told the foremen.

“We know the roads that need to be hit when they need it,” acknowledged Mike Hartman, “but then we have to keep everyone happy, too.”

“I want to get the sheds back to more maintenance first than construction,” Hofstad stated. “That gives you time to do your work. And, there should be more sharing between sheds.”

“I think we do a pretty good job of sharing now,” Mike Flaherty replied. “If Galen needs trucks to haul, we go, and if we need a road graded, Galen helps out. We don’t empty the sheds, but we help each other out all the time.”

“When I started with the county, the blade man ran five days a week,” Dykstra said. “It started each Spring and you would go out in the morning and come back in the afternoon and just blade, about three weeks after the thaw. You just graded five days a week unless something came up.”

“I agree that we need to get rid of the edges on the gravels to help with the drainage,” Flaherty said.

“It seems like we start construction right away after the thaw,” Dykstra observed. “And, our roads carry a lot more weight now than before, so when they get tore up, it’s a lot more work to fix them.”

The board members discussed the application of limestone rock to troublesome spots, and noted that the practice has been paying off, to which the foremen agreed.

“We had real good luck on 390 over to N28 with the limestone,” agreed Vinnie Lammers. “The rock seems to stay if it gets cruddy when it rains for a week, where gravel just squeezes out.”

It was suggested that the gravel road running east of the POET and AGP plants that runs to Highway 18 be embargoed in the Spring due to heavy loads cutting to the highway, but it was also noted that an embargo only addresses weight, not the types of vehicles, such as large wagons as opposed to trucks.

“We have hit that road with rock in spots and it is getting better,” Lammers noted. “We fixed the area west of the railroad tracks and it is getting better also.”

“Can we fix some of the roads without crowns without a total re-grading?” Noonan asked.

“We tried that on 510,” Fantz replied, “And we did an actual re-grade to get a quality project out of it.”

The discussion continued with some ideas exchanged both ways on pulling dirt from ditches and narrowing some wider roads for ease of maintenance.

“I think when we can first get out there in the Spring, we need to get the roads in shape before we start our construction season,” Wirtz said. “I think if you have some things you want to try, go ahead and try them, too.”