When it comes to improving, repairing and replacing roads and bridges, counties rely on various funding sources to accomplish those tasks. The challenge is that funding has not kept up with the demand, and so counties have had to become more creative in finding the money to keep things in the best condition possible.

Whether it is federal funding, state bonding or local levy dollars, the county highway department tries to best use the funds that are available. The problem is that the costs continue to rise and the list of projects that needs to be done grows longer.

According to Keith Berndt, Redwood County engineer, the rest of 2018 is going to be busy, as the highway department has several projects that will be starting this summer.

Among the projects on the docket for 2018 are three mill and overlay projects, including CSAH 11 north of Morgan, CSAH 20 near Walnut Grove and CSAH 16 west of Clements.

A mill and overlay project, said Berndt, involves milling off the top three inches of the existing bituminous surface and then replacing it.

These three projects equate to about 15 miles of work, with a total estimated cost of $3.8 million. Berndt added a mill and overlay project is a less expensive option to help prolong the life of the road.

However, he added, for every roadway there will come a time when the road will need to be rebuilt, and on rural roadways rebuilding typically has a price tag of $1 million per mile.

“A mill and overlay is about preservation,” said Berndt, adding the cost for that is approximately $200,000 per mile.

Six bridges in Redwood County are also on the schedule for replacement this year. 

A bridge on CSAH 8 as well as one in Brookville Township are nearing completion.

The bids for two bridges in Waterbury Township were just approved during the June 5 Redwood County board meeting, and bids were recently opened for an additional bridge in Kintire Township and one in Westline Township. Those two bridges will be replaced with box culverts. The total cost for the six bridges currently under construction or on the docket for work in 2018 is estimated at a little more than $2.3 million.

Redwood County is also involved in the CSAH 101 and Trunk Highway 19/71 intersection project, with the county covering 25 percent of the cost for the installation of a stoplight at that location.

Berndt said there was some funding approved during the 2018 state session, with dollars allocated in the capital investment bill that was recently signed by the governor.

Berndt said he anticipates the county will receive a portion of those dollars, but said it is too early to know for sure how much that will be.

“We are not able to do as much as we should,” said Berndt, adding the reality is that Redwood County is falling behind.

To help cover some of its needs, the Redwood County Board of Commissioners approved a wheelage tax in 2017 that became effective in 2018. This year when residents pay for their vehicle registration an added $10 will be included to help raise added funding for the roads and bridges of Redwood County.

The county anticipates approximately $270,000 of added funding will be collected with the wheel age tax in 2018. Berndt said while a final decision has not been made regarding how that funding will be used, he did say the county has committed to paving a portion of roadway east of Redwood Falls adjacent to the dedicated land for the proposed veterans cemetery.

While state funding was allocated for that project, the county will still need to cover some of that cost, and because that roadway is not a county state aid highway (CSAH) it can’t use those dollars allocated to the county.

During the summer the county highway department will also be seal coating a number of roadways throughout the county. Berndt said that work will be done by the county, adding it is currently out and about filling in cracks and doing patchwork prior to the seal coating tasks. Seal coating is another road preservation measure, said Berndt.

The public is reminded when entering an area where road or bridge construction is taking place to abide by the detours that are established and to watch for those people who are working in construction zones.

Photo courtesy of Internet Public Domain