Road maintenance is already underfunded, increased truck traffic from sand mining could make matters worse
Monday, May 06, 2013 4:13 AM
Who is to pay for the extra damage to the county's roads and bridges caused by increased heavy truck traffic as a result of intensified mining of silica sand in Winneshiek County? Is that a cost that is to be passed onto the county's taxpayers who are not responsible for causing the damage? What other options exist, if any? Until those questions can be satisfactorily answered, there is every reason for a moratorium on new conditional use permits for frac sand mining.
Our current system is not adequate to keep up with the current traffic's damage to bridges and roads. How, then, is it expected that increased damage to our roads and bridges will be paid for?
On April 8, the Winneshiek County engineer reported to the Board of Supervisors that bridge work would be let on April 29, but that bidders were notified that the county would not pay for any work until after July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year. We were three-fourths of the way through the current fiscal year, but the county had already run out of funds for that work.
Bids were awarded for gravel in the county's four quadrants at the supervisor meeting on Monday, April 22. Contractors who were awarded the contracts were reminded that no payments would be made until July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. However, it is expected that the rock will be delivered during the current fiscal year which ends June 30. Again, we were three-fourths of the way through the current fiscal year, but had already run out of funds for the needed work.
We will thus begin the new fiscal year by draining out money to pay for work done in the previous fiscal year to repair bridges and to maintain county roads. This situation is not a one-year occurrence in Winneshiek County. And, Winneshiek County is not the only county in Iowa faced with this recurring scenario.
There are both structural and systemic fiscal issues with the Secondary Road Use Fund. However, those issues are better addressed in a newspaper report rather than a letter-to-the editor. I only point to them to illustrate that the current system is inadequate for existing circumstances. The existing system would be completely overwhelmed by any increased heavy truck traffic.
And so I repeat my initial question: Who is to pay for the extra damage to our roads and bridges as a result of increased heavy truck traffic brought about by an expansion of industrial silica sand mining in Winneshiek County?