By Jim Allen
The Road and Bridge Committee met at 9:00 a.m. on February 9 at the Douglas County Highway Department. Chair Don Munson called the meeting to order with board members Gary Luth and Dick Hein in attendance. Also present were Township Road Commissioners and members of the public. Due to space considerations, the meeting was recessed and reconvened in a conference room in the Maintenance Building.
The first item discussed was the response to the recent snow storm. County Engineer Jim Crane had contacted the Sheriff’s Department as well as the Township Road Commissioners before the storm hit in anticipation of deteriorating road conditions. Preplanning helped to mitigate the hazards associated with closing of roads and the changes in routes that GPS sent to those who were caught on the interstates. A testament to the planning in Douglas County was the speed in which trucks were able to move off the interstate and be safe in the parking lots in Tuscola and Arcola.
The renewal of the County-Township agreement for county road assistance was the next order of business. When the Townships agreed to take over maintenance of County roads in 2003, the County paid the Townships for the extra work incurred. The last time the amount was adjusted was 2011 when compensation was set at $1,300 per mile. Costs for the maintenance has, of course, increased over the last ten years and the County and Townships have agreed to an increase to $1,600 per mile. Gary Luth made the motion to accept the agreement and to authorize the Douglas County Board Chair to sign an agreement with each of the Township Road Commissioners in Douglas County. Dick Hein seconded the motion and it passed 3-0.
Among the work included for the Townships includes: snow removal, pothole patching, grading of shoulders and ditches as needed, checking and maintaining signage, mowing and cutting brush, repair and installation of small culverts, and other items which would normally be considered a maintenance operation. It should be noted that with this agreement, the County does not need maintenance employees or equipment. This amounts to a savings for the County and the clearing of county roads is quicker since there are nine crews available from the Townships.
The new agreement will be for one year commencing 4-1-2022. During the discussion, all parties made a point of how efficient and economical interaction between the County and Townships has been. The relationship is mutually beneficial and is somewhat unique to Douglas County.
Updates on construction projects were given with caveats regarding supply chains among other variables. There are seven projects that will be started or completed in the calendar year 2022. One project that will be placed in Fiscal Year 2023, which begins July 1, 2022 will be resurfacing 2.65 miles of the Oakland Road extending from north of Walnut State Park to the Coles/Douglas County line south of the park. In 1991 the road was resurfaced at a cost of $186,035. The estimate for resurfacing this time is $1,220,000.00. Jim Crane intends to continue developing estimates for projects to take advantage of Federal funds as they come available.