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Supervisors Updated On County Roads

By Staff | May 10, 2011

Progress continues on the acquisition of right-of-way for an upcoming road project by the Palo Alto County Secondary Road Department. The County Supervisors were updated on that progress and other road-related information during their weekly board meeting on May 3.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz reported that the acquisition of right-of-way for the north bypass project on the east side of Five Island Lake is progressing well. “We seeing that most people want to see the progress and are willing to work with us,” Fantz explained to the supervisors, “But, it just takes time.”

Fantz also reported that an informational meeting for a reconstruction project on County Road B63 east of Mallard went well, with lots of property owners in attendance to ask questions and receive information on the project. “We will have to have right-of-way acquired on this project by September if we want to make a December bid letting with the state,” Fantz noted, pointing out that the turn around time to complete plans for the work is very limited.

In other business, Fantz reported that after receiving 30 applications for summer workers, a total of 15 summer employees had been offered positions. “We had great applicants for these positions, and it was tough to pick the 15 best. We feel we’ll have another good summer workforce.”

A 50-cent wage increase was approved by the supervisors for the summer employees, making the starting wage $9 per hour, with those returning for a second year to receive $9.50 per hour and workers returning for a third year receiving $10 per hour.

“We are one of very few counties that still hire summer workers,” Fantz noted. “These people will be working on crack filling, mowing and other projects like that.”

The issue of damage to gravel roads came up in casual discussion between the supervisors and the engineer and prompted a discussion. Several roads had been damaged by heavy loads as the frost was coming out, creating bad ruts or areas where the base of the road simply gave way, necessitating the use of lots of limestone to re-establish the bases of those damaged areas.

“Sad to say, but once again, we’ve had some people who did not use good discretion about using some of our gravel roads while hauling grain and bales,” Fantz admitted. “The county has spent tens of thousands of dollars to put rock in the roads to try and repair these damages in the past, and yet, people keep on doing this.”

“I think we may have to think about embargoing some gravel roads because people don’t think out there,” stated Supervisor Ron Graettinger.

“Do any other counties embargo their gravel roads?” asked Board Chair Keith Wirtz

“There are many that do,” Fantz answered. “Clay County does on some, and a lot more are apt to start embargoing their gravel roads than they are to embargo their pavements.”

“If you want to go out and wreck a lot of roads, you’re going to have to pay for it,” Graettinger observed.

“But, everyone shouldn’t have to pay for damages done by a few,” Fantz pointed out. “It wasn’t a widespread occurrence, just in a few areas in the county.”

“Well, hopefully if word gets out, those who are responsible may think about their actions,” Wirtz said. “But, I think this is something we need to start thinking about now.”