Saturated ground from last fall and then rain that melted snow and ice March 13 have made for difficult navigation for drivers on Lincoln County gravel roads.
Lincoln County Emergency Management coordinator Harold Timmerman issued a notice last week asking all trucks to refrain from driving on the county’s gravel roads. He notes some heavy vehicle offenders have been garbage trucks and some farmers hauling grain.
“Every time a heavy vehicle goes, it leaves tracks and then those tracks fill up with water and it just washes away more of our road as more vehicles go through there,” he said. “If we don’t get some of these vehicles off of there, we may not get our roads back to normal condition all summer because a lot of our road base is being washed away, too.”
Timmerman is blaming a lot of the gravel road problems on too much water in the soil at the end of the fall and then a rapid spring melt. Those two factors have negatively impacted the condition of township roads.
Lennox School District buses have stayed off gravel roads since the end of March, Russ Nelson, district transportation director, said. Nelson has been keeping in contact with maintainers and townships to check road conditions.
Frozen culverts did not help move water during the March 13 rain and melting event.
“One other bad thing was our culverts were frozen yet. A lot of them couldn’t flow water, so it just backed up and went over places where it’d never gone before. It made an awful mess, the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Some of the older concrete culverts fell apart or came apart in the middle of the road, causing wash outs in gravel roads.
In between the March 13 weather and last week’s weather, it was a struggle for townships to get gravel on those roads due to frozen gravel piles. A lot have turned to getting crushed concrete put on instead.
“Now they’re using a lot of crushed concrete to reestablish the base in these roads, which will stay better than just gravel, then they’re putting gravel over the top,” Timmerman said. “Still contractors are still having trouble getting things going like they want to. They’re doing the best they can. It’s kind of a culmination of everything going backward at once the way it seems.”
He noted that most paved roads are in pretty good shape. On County Road 140 from Highway 17 to Fairview, he noted some bad spots.
“I think you’ll find bad spots in roads that you’ve never seen before,” he said.
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[Pictured above, the water has washed away the road at 281st St. west of Worthing in Lynn Township.]