IRON RIVER—Some paved roads that are in poor condition may be better off if they are “scarified”–returned to a unpaved surface. It’s been done in Iron County before.
During the Road Commission’s monthly meeting here Aug. 13, commissioners discussed whether Buck Lake Road in Mastodon Township should be next. The discussion started with township Trustee Raymond Kudwa calling it “absolutely horrible for a primary road.”
“Absolutely, we know it’s bad,” ICRC Superintendetnt Doug Tomasoski replied. At times, the county has had crews from both Iron River and Crystal Falls working on it. The biggest problem area, he said, is Carney Dam Road west.
Tomasoski said the Road Commission has discussed scarifying Buck Lake Road—turning it to gravel—several times. At first, he said, residents tend to say gravel would be an improvement for a poor road. They lose their enthusiasm if dust problems develop.
Putting chloride on gravel roads cuts the dust. Since it is a primary road, Kudwa said, the Road Commission would be responsible for putting on chloride. “If you’re not going to pave it, we [the township] are not putting money into it.”
Crystal Falls Township Supervisor Tom Lesandrini suggested a chloride program. “There’s a lot of other people who want to do it for their drives,” he told the board. Tanks of chloride could be set up, brought up by rail from Wausau to Amasa’s industrial park.
Road Commissioner Charles Battan said the county needs to closely compare the costs of patching vs, scarifying, including the cost of chloride, along with the labor involved.
“At least this way,” he said, “you could grade it once in a while. If you put chloride on it a couple of times, it sets up.”
• Commissioners approved a state contract with Northeast Asphalt for the Idlewild Road project. The low bid was $332,665. A pre-construction meeting will be held later in August. The work will be from Bible Camp Road to Tobin-Alpha Road.
Local road projects in the townships are also starting. First, the contractors are putting in any culverts that are needed. Projects are slated for completion in late September or early October.
• Commissioners authorized getting bids to replace the underbody of one of the county trucks.
Head mechanic Dean Stolberg said the underbody currently on that truck can be rebuilt, but no spare underbody is available. He suggested buying a used underbody and putting it on the truck right away. Meanwhile, the old underbody can be rebuilt when the shop has time and set aside until another underbody needs replacing.
The Road Commission used to have a spare underbody for its older trucks, Stolberg said. “On our newer trucks, we don’t have a spare.”
Stolberg said underbodies for trucks like that are being sold for $8,000 and up. The commissioners agreed to seek bids.
• With winter not that far away, Superintendent Tomasoski reminded the public about the Road Commission’s policy for handling close encounters between plow trucks and rural mailboxes.
If Road Commission equipment hits the mailbox and knocks it over, the county will replace it. But if the mailbox is knocked over by snow and ice plowed up by county trucks, replacing it is the homeowner’s responsibility.
“Now is the time to test them, to make sure they don’t need maintenance.”
• Tomasoski was authorized to request proposals for rehabilitating the Bates-Amasa Road (County Road 643) bridge. That work is expected in 2015 and should complete work on that road—the rest has been newly resurfaced.
The first step is requesting design proposals from engineering firms. The Road Commission will select a consultant this fall, engineering work takes place over the winter, design work next spring and summer, bidding in fall 2014 and construction in 2015.
“We’re giving ourselves time,” the superintendent said. “You can do this on a more compressed schedule, but we want to get everything in line rather than rushing at the end.”
• The superintendent also noted the Road Commission has received a safety award from the county road associations’ self-insurance fund, based on the number and severity of accidents.
It means the Road Commission will get a rebate on its insurance premium because of its safety record—it also earned the rebate in the two previous years. This will also affect future premiums.
“The honor roll recognizes road commissions for doing more with less without sacrificing employee safety,” said the cover letter. “They are to be commended for their efforts.” Tomasoski thanked the foremen and shop people for their efforts.
• With summer youth workers about to return to school, Tomasoski said, crack-filling is nearly over for this summer. The foremen decide which roads get taken care of first—not every township gets crack-filling every year.