July 23, 2007

Meeker County Road 18 near Lake Jennie in bad shape

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The 4.5-mile stretch of Meeker County Road 18 that hooks around Lake Jennie, south of Dassel, is the worst road in the county, but there’s no money to fix it.

Meeker County Highway Engineer Ron Mortensen told the county board of commissioners Tuesday about the poor condition of County Road 18 as part of a report on the highway department’s seven-year construction program.

County Road 18 was built to be a 7-ton road. However, trucks weighing 10 tons or more have been using it constantly, especially when construction in Hutchinson last year caused trucks to detour their usual routes in the area, Mortensen said.

Also, since 2000, the cost of road work has doubled, but the revenues the county receives each year have stayed the same. The county hasn’t been spending money on road preservation at all, he said.

Mortensen wanted direction from the commissioners, he said, whether he should prioritize preservation or road building. By 2009, the county will be short of funds, if it follows the present construction program.

Commissioner Dave Gabrielson advised him to not prioritize one or the other, but do both.

Mike Halterman, the highway department’s road and bridge supervisor, said the county might be able to scrape up about $40,000 from maintenance funds to put a “Band-Aid” or a thin layer of bituminous overlay on County Road 18.

“We hope it can last to 2009,” Mortensen said.

County Road 15, between the county line and County State Aid Highway 6, southeast of Dassel, will be graded for seven miles in 2008. The $1.5 million project will be federally funded, so the money is available.

Dassel’s bike path to Spring Lake, estimated to cost $105,000, is part of this federally-funded project. County Administrator Paul Virnig, however, said he thought the estimate for the bike path was too high for grading and bitiminous surfacing.

The third proposed construction project for 2008 is a municipal project in Watkins on County Road 2 from Highway 55 to the county line.

By the time it’s 2009 and the county grades three miles of County Road 27 for $654,000, and finishes County Road 15 for $1.9 million with bituminous, the money will be $1.5 million short, he pointed out.

County Road 18 is the worst of the list of nine roads with 12-foot driving lanes that need work and for which there are no money available. It is the number one priority and at the top of the list to be done by 2013.

There also are six road stretches with only 11-foot driving lanes that need widening. They include county roads 2, 3, 6, 17, 27 and 30, according to the construction program.

Odds and ends

In other business, the county board:

• accepted the low bid of Triple A Striping Services of Rogers for $57,834 for pavement markings. The other bidder was Traffic Marking Services of Maple Lake for $58,995.

• hired Keri Rath, out of seven candidates, for a full-time appraisor postion.

• reviewed an environmental assessment worksheet for Meeker Washed Sand and Gravel, Inc.’s mining expansion. The gravel pit is owned by Jason Sing and is at 20090 640th Ave., Darwin.

• set a public hearing for an amendment to the county’s comprehensive water management plan for Tuesday, Aug. 14, 9 a.m.

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