Here in Winneshiek County, keeping our roads and bridges passable and in good repair is both costly and time consuming. Budgets strain. Our long winters take their toll.

But never mind winter. Minnesota studies show that roads built to last for 20 years will be ruined in four or five years with frac sand trucks making hundreds, sometimes thousands, of round trips each day.

In Wisconsin, residents on a truck haul route near a sand mine report the road running past their home needs to be repaved every two months. Our neighbors are asking the same questions we should be: who will pay to repair these damaged roads?

In addition, there is a significant issue of safety with the increased traffic. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 68 percent of all fatal truck accidents occur on rural roads like those we have here in Winneshiek County.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds account for a disproportionate share of those deaths.

The typical frac sand truck weighs 80,000 pounds.

More weight means longer stopping distances, even more so with wet or icy roads. Studies show a sharp increase in truck crash fatality rates with each extra ton on a truck. (A truck weighing 80,000 pounds is more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash than a truck weighing 50,000 pounds). Although these large trucks represent only 3 percent of all registered vehicles on the road, they are involved in up to 25 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multi-vehicle crashes.

There's a whole lot more to say about the multitude of negative impacts of frac sand mining, but we can save that for another day. In the meantime, let's all be aware that driving defensively may no longer be enough if the frac sand trucks come to town.

Ellen Rockne,