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Tight budgets might mean rough Rock County roads

By Margo Spann,
Published On: May 01 2013 03:04:37 PM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 01:32:23 PM CDT

Tight budgets and a possible reduction in the state transportation aid could mean more rough roads in Rock County.

Carvers Road in Plymouth Township is one of several that need major repairs.

"Now it's gotten so we're patching on top of patches, and the roads are falling apart to the point there's no more patching them," said Town Chairman Larry Harding.

Harding said Plymouth receives about $104,000 in state aid. When it costs $50,000 to pave one mile, Harding added those state dollars aren't stretching enough for them to fix anything.

"Instead of paving and chip sealing and pothole-filling, we would just take a grader, and the road would be graded just like back in the 30s," he said.

Plymouth is one of several communities that contracts with the Rock County Highway Department for its road maintenance work. Public Works Director Ben Coopman said several communities are cutting back and doing more patching than paving.

He said the contracts require them to spend only a minimum amount, so it won't impact the county's overall budget.

"We're managing to stay even on our staffing and some of our equipment by attrition. We're just seeing a lot of local units of government doing anything with their roads. They're basically letting their roads go," said Coopman.

Plymouth's state aid hasn't increased in the last three years and is scheduled to remain the same for the next two, even though roadwork costs are up. Harding said last year, residents shot down a resolution to increase the tax levy specifically for road maintenance, so the town is running out of options.

"There's 101,000 miles of roads in the state of Wisconsin, and the towns have 61,000 of those miles. Yet we get 33 percent of the transportation aid returned back to fix roads with," he said.

Coopman added the town of Avon has already begun converting its roads to gravel, then putting a thin layer of oil over the rocks, a procedure he said is about two-thirds the cost of paving a road.

He added some communities are reducing the thickness of their roads to save material costs.

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