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Local roads may get chip-seal aid

IRON RIVER—Santa’s big bag may have something shiny and new for county townships: a chip-sealing program intended to extend the life of local roads.
    Discussing how such a program should be set up was the main topic during the Road Commission’s monthly meeting here Dec. 9.
    There is no chip-seal program now, but the county’s seven townships would love to have a preventive maintenance program that leads to lower costs down the road. The county would benefit, too: In the long run, it would reduce road maintenance and rebuilding costs, which frees up money for other needs.
    It seems like a match made in heaven. Not so heavenly is working out how it should be run.
    The seeds of the new program were sown last July when officials of Fahrner Asphalt Services of Plover, Wis., told the Road Commission about its chip-sealing process. The county agreed to a demonstration project on Pentoga Trail, just north of County Road 424.
    “To date, I think things are looking good out there,” Superintendent Doug Tomasoski told the commission. “I haven’t heard any problems, so it seems like a good product. Now, we need to discuss how we want to do it.”
    Several townships are also interested—some very much so. “It’s something that we do want to take advantage of,” the superintendent said. “But we want to set some parameters.”
    Among the questions: How much should the county budget for the work? How many townships would be interested, and how long would their list of projects be? How should costs be split?
    The biggest question of all: How bad of a winter are we going to have? In a severe winter, Tomasoski said, winter road maintenance takes a big bite out of the Road Commission budget, and there won’t be much money left for other needs. If it isn’t so bad,

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