Snow, warm weather bad for roads
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Increased moisture over the past week combined with above-freezing temperatures is a “recipe for disaster” for the county’s gravel roads, according to Henry County Engineer Bill Belzer.
“The gravel roads are very soft due to the above freezing temperatures,” Belzer told the board of supervisors during his weekly update on Tuesday morning.
Henry County experienced what Belzer refers to as three snow events within the past week, and there was more coming down on Tuesday morning as Belzer gave his report.
“Right now our gravel roads are difficult,” said Belzer. He noted that in an ideal situation, temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night so that the gravel roads have time to freeze and harden.
However, with recent high temperatures, the gravel roads have begun to soften and thaw out. Add in the extra moisture from the several inches of snow that have fallen and the roads are difficult to drive on, especially for larger vehicles.
Belzer noted that his major concern at this point is the coming weekend, when temperatures are supposed to be above freezing all day and all night Thursday through Sunday.
“With this much moisture on top of it, it’s going to be like kneading ice chips into bread. It’s just going to be mush,” said Belzer.
Belzer said it is possible that school buses may be limited to hard surfaces only in the coming weeks, and Supervisor Vice Chairman Marc Lindeen mentioned the possibility of limiting truck traffic on certain roads.
“These roads are going to be very critical over the next two weeks,” said Belzer.
On the subject of snow removal, Belzer told the supervisors that he would like to look at adding one or two full-time, temporary employees for snow removal next winter.
“We’re short on help,” said Belzer, noting that the past couple of weeks have been difficult and that some employees that are usually working in the office have needed to go out and move snow to help out.
“Right now I’ve got one of my inspectors pushing snow,” said Belzer.
Belzer said that when he first started with the county, there were 11 truck drivers in the department. There are currently eight truck drivers, and 10 snow routes.
Belzer also reported that his department had been visited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) earlier this year and there were 17 items they are currently working to fix.