Supervisors seek to monitor gravel roads’ progress
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors talked Monday about how it could respond to residents’ concerns about gravel roads.
Supervisor Dick Reed said he has received a number of phone calls from residents about when their gravel roads are going to receive new rock. Usually when that happens, Reed passes that inquiry on to the secondary roads department. However, Reed said he wants to hear back from secondary roads as to whether or not the task was completed, so he can relay that information to his constituents.
“When somebody who lives on 120th or 125th street calls and says they haven’t seen gravel on their road for quite awhile, I turn around and call the county engineer and they say, ‘OK,’” Reed said in an interview today. “I assume it gets taken care of.”
Reed said that sometimes a person will call him back after a couple of days and report that no new gravel has been placed on the road.
“Without communication back and forth, it leaves us wondering if the job was accomplished or not,” he said.
Reed said the county is working on a method of tracking progress on its secondary roads. He said county associations are creating one right now that is computer generated.
“We’re always trying to do the job a little better,” he said.
Supervisor Lee Dimmitt said the supervisors are not interested in monitoring every little thing the secondary roads department does. He said the purpose of the monitoring system is to keep the residents informed.
“When we get a call from somebody, we want to know their issue has been addressed,” he said. “If they call back, we can tell them the crew did this or that.”
One reason complaints seem to have risen this year is because of the toll the weather has taken on the roads.
“We’ve had a season that has set our gravel roads up for failure,” Reed said. “It looks like they have turned from gravel to mud because of the freeze and thaw cycle. This isn’t something new. It happens every now and again.”
In late February, the road crews received no breaks from the weather. As soon as one snowstorm left, another came to take its place.
“Those snows we had piled on top of each other,” Reed said. “We never got some of those routes clear before it snowed again.”
Reed said the road workers are hampered by how much snow they can remove from gravel roads. If their blade runs too deep, it will push both the snow and the gravel into the ditch. Consequently, the snow that was left on top of the roads soaked into them, making them very soft when temperatures rose.
“A lot of cars are small today and have a hard time getting through mud,” Reed said. “People ask me on the phone, ‘What are you doing about my road? I can hardly get through it.’”
Reed said even while some cars have become smaller and liable to get stuck in the mud, the size of farm equipment has gone in the opposite direction, which has placed an additional burden on the roads.
“Twenty years ago, very few farmers had semis. Now they have fleets of semis,” he said. “We have animal confinements which require big feed trucks. Combines, tractors and wagons are much bigger than before.”
In other matters, the supervisors heard from New York Life representatives Aaron Countryman and Billy Martin. Countryman and Martin sought permission from the supervisors to address the secondary roads crew about guaranteed life insurance.
Reed said he was uncomfortable with the idea, because if the supervisors let New York Life give a presentation, they would have to let every company do one. He said in an interview today that he would have a hard time justifying to the taxpayers taking time from the county employees’ day, considering how many tasks the employees have to complete.
The supervisors approved a survey replat for Devi Nagar.
The supervisors considered the final plat of Schaefer Subdivision. The supervisors decided to table the item until an issue regarding road access to the parcel had been resolved.