Grading of dusty gravel roads under fire
Two county residents attended Monday’s Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting to ask about roads, and supervisor Dick Reed said he’d had a few calls about road conditions prior to the meeting.
Jerry Hoage was concerned about a culvert being placed on Glasgow Road.
“The bridge is 20 feet and you’re going to put in a culvert that is 33 feet,” Hoage said, addressing county engineer Scott Cline.
Hoage was concerned about a white flag marker close to his property line where he wants to put a fence.
Cline said the culvert project would not infringe on Hoage’s property.
“The bridge will come out, we’ll put the culvert in place and the pipe will run in front of your property, but not disturb it,” said Cline.
Kurt Mingus lives on the north side of 220th Street and asked why road grading is done on gravel roads in a drought year.
“The roads are hard and flat — and here comes the grader, fluffing it up,” he said. “People get upset because all that lime dust is polluting the air. I have dust everywhere on my buildings, in the air, inside the house. Why are they grading gravel roads?”
Mingus said he’s annually used dust control on the road in front of his property. He said it costs about $1 per running foot for dust control.
“I’ve gone out and spoken with the grader [driver] about it,” he said. “It must cost $100 per hour to grade.”
Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt said he didn’t necessarily disagree with Mingus.
“However, we also have people complaining their road doesn’t get graded,” said Dimmitt. “I do question why we’re blading over dust proofing.”
Reed told Mingus his road was on the supervisors/county engineer’s road tour planned right after Monday’s meeting.
Reed said he knows who the road maintainer/grader probably is on Mingus’s road.
“I’m not going to grab him and ask him, there’s a chain of command to follow and we’ll do that,” said Reed. “If a road doesn’t need grading, I don’t know why we’re doing it.
“We have seven operators and each probably has different ideas about how to make the road right. The county engineer has guidelines for them to follow.”
Earlier in the meeting, before Mingus entered, Cline talked about road grading in his weekly department update.
“Each of the seven maintainers has a route,” said Cline. “We wait until after Oct. 15 as the season to begin blading to prepare roads and get them in shape for snow plowing.
“I’ve had phone calls about potholes and washboards on roads. We’re waiting for certain roads to get rain before grading.”
Reed said he’d received calls about graders on gravel roads before the rains, and how dusty it was.
“I know shoulder rock needs to get pulled back [into the road] so it doesn’t get [snow] plowed into the ditches,” said Reed.
“Callers wanted to know who determines when the graders go up and down the roads and how much they do,” Reed said. “I explained the county engineer does that. One caller was concerned all they were doing was grinding the blades off and not doing any good to the road, around 200th Street and Spruce Avenue. One of the callers had dust-proofed and the maintainer went right through, ripping it up.”
Mingus was filled in on this prior discussion by the supervisors.
“We’re here to listen,” said Reed.
Mingus said he would be taking out a local ad and publishing the supervisors’ phone numbers to urge residents to call about the roads’ conditions.
“You’re public servants,” he said.
Hoage said a previous pothole off Glasgow Road had cost him $850 to fix ball joints on his car when he drove through it.
“I called and complained, and it got fixed,” he said.
Mingus said if the road crews fix one spot in the road, that’s good.
“But then, they just keep going, blading the whole road,” he said.
Cline said it has been an extremely dry year, so graders haven’t gone out as much prior to the Oct. 15 seasonal shift.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me either to have it graded if it doesn’t need it,” said Cline.
Mingus asked about road ditches on Spruce Avenue north of Highway 34 that were scraped but not seeded. He said the freshly scraped ditches lose dirt without being seeded.
“The crews will come back and seed,” said Reed. “We have 850 miles of county roads to maintain. That’s 1,700 miles of ditches. It’s part of the process to scrape and seed. We don’t go out and micro-manage the road crews. They have a schedule for certain times of year of when to seed.”