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Not happy with snow on roads

By Staff | Dec 6, 2015

Faribault County residents, business persons and farmers attended the County Board meeting Tuesday with concerns about plowing on county highways.

They have had enough.

The Faribault County Board meeting room filled up last Tuesday with citizens who expressed their concerns about the condition of county roads after winter weather events.

Individuals, mostly from the Frost area, were in attendance at the Faribault County Commissioner’s meeting to discuss the county’s policy on snow and ice removal on county roads.

“A?group of my friends and business associates do business and travel to work on a daily basis on Faribault County roads,”?said Duane Bromeland, of Frost. “We feel there is a need to use more salt or pre-salting before and after major storms and freezing rains.”

Bromeland explained that many of the farmers and business people in the Frost area will commute between Faribault County and other counties, including some county roads in Iowa.

“Our concerns are based on the fact that surrounding counties and State roads are cleared and dry within hours of major weather events while ours remain ice packed or snow packed for several days,”?he said.

According to the group of citizens, many people from the area make a living farming and spend a lot of time on the roads trying to get their grain out on a timely basis.

Paul Nerem, manager at StateLine Cooperative’s Blue Earth facility, also came to express similar concerns.

“We also have a lot of trucks coming and going at our location and it would be nice to see cleaner roads,” he says. “It really comes down to it being a safety issue.”

County engineer Mark Daly addressed some of the concerns of the community members by presenting the county’s snow removal policy.

The policy states, “The general goals of the department is to have all routes passable when reasonably possible after a snowfall has stopped. Clearing the driving surfaces is a first priority. Clearing shoulders and intersections will be accomplished after the driving surfaces are open to traffic.”

The goal section of the policy goes on to explain that the county only has one shift of operators and snow removal equipment will usually run beginning early in the morning until mid afternoon.

“The county does not have a bare pavement policy where crews continue to work until the pavement is free of all snow and ice,” the policy reads.

Daly says that it is the goal of Mark Adams, of the Faribault County Public Works department, to start plowing at 5:30 a.m. on the mornings of a snow event.

“His goal is to get out to clear roads for buses,” Daly says. “He will get out and drive the roads and if he thinks they need to go sooner he will call the crew and have them come in.”

Daly explains that when the crew does go out they do not completely salt the roads.

“We just hit the stop signs, hills and curves with salt,”?he said and added that it rarely works to salt ahead of time or salt roads that are not frequently traveled.

“Have you guys considered talking to Winnebago County?” Bromeland asked. “Their policy is working.”

In 2014 the county spent $500,000 for salt and sand, $375,000 in 2013 and $275,000 so far this year.

The commissioners told the group of concerned citizens that the preliminary levy and budget is set in September so they might not be able to make many adjustments for the 2016 budget, especially in regards to the funds for deicing roads.

“Our hands are tied by the state,” commissioner Tom Warmka explained. “We can’t go up from the levy we set only down.”

Warmka adds that what the county really needs is more funds coming in from the state and federal levels.

“This discussion is a good start,” he said. “You have a good grassroots group here that could really make an impact at the state level.”

The commissioners agreed that Daly should prepare some more information and check with surrounding areas about their policy and bring his findings back to the next County Board meeting.

But, the concerned citizens were still just as concerned about making changes.

“We are asking you to make some changes before an event such as a school bus accident or multi-vehicle collision injures or takes the life of someone,”?Bromeland said.