The Redwood County Highway Department continues to work on projects throughout the county, and as it looks to the upcoming fall there is still work that will be going on as long as the weather cooperates.

While much of the damage from July flooding has been addressed, Keith Berndt, county engineer, said there are three roads that still remain closed due to the significant damage. 

The first stretch of roadway that still requires some work is CSAH 5 north of Walnut Grove. That road remains closed, as a bridge abutment five miles north of Walnut Grove washed out causing an embankment failure and subsequent road collapse.

According to Berndt, the high cost of repairs and overall condition of the CSAH 5 bridge made it most economical to replace the bridge with a new one. 

The county highway department is in the design process for that new bridge. The process of design, permit acquisition and bidding means that project will not be ready until Spring 2019, which means the road will remain closed until next summer.

Another roadway approximately five-and-a-half miles west of Walnut Grove is also closed. A box culvert on CSAH 20 was severely damaged. Berndt indicated that the highway department plans to make temporary repairs that would allowed the road to reopen in September, but it will have to be closed again in the spring so that the culvert can be replaced.

A third section of roadway located one-half mile west of Walnut Grove is also closed. A steel culvert on County Highway 78 near Plum Creek Park was destroyed and completely washed out along with a large section of the roadway. The highway department is working on the design of a new concrete culvert at that location.

As is the case with the bridge on CSAH 5, the requirements will not allow for work on this project to begin until next spring which means the road will remain closed until next summer.

Like much of Minnesota, Redwood County is waiting for the decision from the president regarding a disaster declaration. After initial damage reports and an investigation by FEMA, Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to the president requesting the declaration.

In addition to work on flood damage, the county highway department has been busy with other projects. Berndt talked about them with the Redwood County board at its Aug. 21 meeting. They include:

• A highway mill and overlay of CSAH 11. That work is complete.

• A highway mill and overlay of CSAH 16. The paving work is complete, but some shoulder work remains.

• A bridge replacement project on CSAH 8 located south of Milroy. That project is complete and the bridge is open. Berndt added during a recent meeting he has received confirmation that funding will be available to replace the bridge on CSAH 8 north of Milroy that has been in need of repair for some time.

• A bridge replacement in Brookville Township. Work is complete with the exception of some minor clean-up.

• Work continues on a bridge replacement in Waterbury Township, with a second bridge project in Waterbury expected to begin when the first project is complete.

• Work is also expected to begin this summer on a bridge replacement project with a box culvert in Kintire and Westline townships.

• A mill and overlay of CSAH 20 has not yet started but is anticipated to be done yet this year.

In other action during its meeting, the county board:

• Approved an increase in the daily rate of pay for courtroom bailiff from the current rate of $75 per day to $130 per day. Randy Hanson, Redwood County sheriff, said the last time an increase was approved was in 2008. He said the current budget for bailiff services is $4,000, and he believes even with the increase the costs will stay within the budget.

• Approved a rate increase from $23 per hour to $26.50 for drug court tests being conducted in the county.

• Awarded the bid for sidewalk replacement at the law enforcement center to John Goblish construction in the amount of $18,500.

• Adopted a resolution to enter into an operational enhancement grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, which will result in an allocation of $10,000 for the veterans service office.

• Approved the employment of Jessica Tressler as a part-time custody officer.

• Heard a presentation from the University of Minnesota Extension Service regarding the addition of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) coordinator in the county. The part-time position is going to be funded for the first nine months through a grant from the center for youth development. A request was presented to the county board for it to allocate funds for the position for a six-month period to allow the position to exist through the end of 2019. The board said it will consider the request.

• Accepted the county recorder’s annual compliance report, which states the office had a 99.97 percent compliance rate and provided 3,232 documents.

– Photo courtesy of the Redwood County Highway Department