FRANKLIN COUNTY — Officials are aware of the road problems throughout Franklin County.
Weather event after weather event, since the first of the year, continues to plague the amount of completed work.
David Lee, public works director, said after each snow or flooding event, the work just completed was ruined and needed to be done all over again.
“It shines a light on it when we have multiple flooding (events),” Lee said during Monday’s county commissioner study session. “Those problems did not occur over night. They are not going to be fixed overnight.”
This past week’s storm — which dumped between 8 and 11 inches of rain — just compounded the situation the county public work department has faced this year.
“Much of what we had rebuilt from Centropolis through Ottawa down to the county line has been destroyed,” Lee said. “The north-central part of the county was hit the hardest. There is not a lot of ditches we have been able to process to make these improvements. The rain we got this past week has set us back weeks or months. Very few of our roads are designed to handle that much rain in that short of time.”
Lee said the county is responsible for maintaining more than 1,100 miles of road.
“There are less than 30 people that operate the road graders, backhoes, equipment operators, and mowers,” Lee said. “We have two backhoes in the county.”
Lee said the most-traveled roads and those that are not passable receive the most attention.
“Most of the folks that work in the road and bridge department, live out in the county,” Lee said. “They experience these things just like regular citizens do. It is depressing for them. They care deeply about [the roads]. They don’t want to see anybody suffer because of poor road conditions. Under normal circumstances, traffic will cause a road to change.”
Lee said the road-grader operators are hard-working individuals in a no-win situation.
“We do have good blade operators,” Lee said. “We are providing education and training courses. We have blade operator meetings a couple times a month. We talk about best practices. We have nine blade operators. They work 80-100 miles each. Our focus has been to make sure there is one lane of road that people can travel down.”
Lee said right after each weather event, the blade operators go where they are needed the most.