Road and budget washout

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KIMT News 3 – Counties are continuing to feel the effects from last week’s storms.

“We had about two days of rock hauling just for fixing and repairs,” says Winnebago County Engineer Scott Meinders.

He and his team have been busy repairing secondary roads that are washed out from the heavy rainfall and flooding.

“Most of the road stays in place, but the gravel that is used to maintain the road all washes into the ditch and it’s got to be replaced,” says Meinders.

The gravel that washes away into the ditches can’t just be reused, because now it’s full of extra debris that can’t be on the roadways.

“You would think if you could just get it out of the ditch and put it back on the road that would be great, but by the time it gets mixed in with all the dirt and the corn stocks and everything you just got a mess,” says Meinders.

And that extra gravel and clean up isn’t free.

“There’s a cost associated with it because you’re replacing material you wouldn’t have otherwise had to replace,” says Cerro Gordo County Engineer Mary Kelly.

“It’s not something that we account for when we are budgeting at the beginning of the year.  So it’s something that we have to try absorbing in our operations and maybe there’s things we have to eliminate or minimize, whatever it takes to make it fit,” says Meinders.

He says, no matter the cost, it must be fixed because there is one thing that these officials care about even more than road conditions, and that’s the public’s safety.

“It’s got to be fixed and it’s got to be fixed fast, because people use those roads every day,” says Meinders.

Water continues to cover several county roads. Some levels are low enough to where you think there is no risk of driving through, but you don’t know what’s underneath.

“If it’s sitting on the road, one of the things that people don’t think about is the road can have cavities or holes, or rough patches where the gravel washed off. You can’t really see,” says Meinders.

They want drivers to always be on the lookout for dangerous conditions after a storm.

“If you know that we received a substantial amount of rain, you need to be careful when driving in case you come upon something that has not been reported or we’re not aware of yet,” says Kelly.

If this does happen, always alert your county engineer or sheriff’s office.

Depending on the amount of damage, and the material counties are using to repair the roads, they could declare a natural disaster and be compensated for some of their costs.

Several North Iowa counties will be having meetings over the next few weeks to determine whether they qualify for FEMA aid.

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