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‘Washboard’ roads draw township’s ire

IRON RIVER—Today washboards are museum pieces, but apparently you can still see some in Mastodon Township. All you need to do is look down.
    According to a recent letter from the Township Board to the Road Commission, read during the commission’s Feb. 11 regular meeting, washboard conditions prevail on County Road 424, just east of the village of Alpha.
    The issue was first raised during the commission’s January regular meeting. At that time, Chairman Ernest Schmidt said the county has no plans to repair that part of 424 for the next 15 years, since it had only been a few years since work was last done on the road.
    “Your 15-year schedule is unacceptable,” the board’s letter replied, noting that drivers of package delivery trucks have been complaining about the road’s condition. The letter pointed the finger at contractors who did the work, saying “to not make them accountable for such a terrible job is beyond our understanding.”
    The township asked the road commission to investigate “why the road became a washboard in such a short time. Prior to this repair, the road has never been in this condition. Therefore we do not believe that rain may have caused the issue.”
    It asked for an engineer’s explanation and some possible solutions. “The contractor should be held accountable and should repair the problem now, not in 15 years,” the letter ended.    
    Schmidt said his “15 years” remark in January was just “a play on words.” “Of course, we’re not just going to let it go,” he said. “We have to do something.”
    Schmidt said his point is that the road was last paved in 2004—16 years ago. “The washboard starts at the top of the hill, at the circle,” he told Mastodon Township Supervisor Frank Siewiorek, who was in the audience. “All the way down the hill you’ve got washboard. That had nothing to do with us.
    “And then there’s a huge dip right at the very bottom. That’s nasty, Frank! That’s worse than the road.” (Siewiorek said the dip has been there since the Alpha sewer project. “It was never filled in.”)
    Schmidt also mentioned another part of road near a log yard. “That’s new pavement there, in the last few years. And it’s doing the same thing.” Both talked about other places where a relatively new road base is buckling.

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