Residents turn in petition to pave gravel road

Published 7:32 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Road had previously been paved for at least 25 years



More than 100 people have reportedly signed a petition in support of re-paving a two-mile portion of Freeborn County Road 49.

Lynn Wasmoen and Anita Helland, who live near the portion of the road that the county recently turned from a paved road to a gravel surface in Mansfield Township, requested commissioners pave the road during the Tuesday county board meeting.

Commissioners plan to discuss the option at an April 24 study session.

After the meeting, Wasmoen said the stretch of road — intersecting Freeborn County roads 2 and 4 — was paved for at least 25 years.

“Because of one bad section, they decided to completely go back from tar road to gravel road, instead of doing a patch job or completely resurfacing it,” he said.

Though traffic on the road is relatively limited and the roadway is not in a densely populated part of Freeborn County, Wasmoen said it is used by motorists as an efficient route to Albert Lea.

“It is truly a better road to take,” he said.

It is estimated the project would cost approximately $600,000 to $800,000. Officials have said the county would either need to raise its tax levy or cut from other places in its budget for the project to occur.

Wasmoen said though he understands “it’s hard to find funding, but that certainly is their job.”

“This is infrastructure,” he said. “When they talk about the money that gets spent on other things throughout the county — what’s more important, police protection, fire protection — but you’ve gotta have good roads.”

District 2 Commissioner Dan Belshan said he has never supported turning paved surfaces to gravel and requested the project be placed on the May 1 agenda.

After the meeting, District 1 Commissioner Glen Mathiason said he would probably support the project, which is in his district.

“It’s in our hands, but it’s not on the docket to do,” he said. “So if we choose to have it done, then we’ve gotta know where the money has to come from.”

He said he would likely not support increasing the wheelage tax only to pay for the project. The close proximity of tar roads makes Mathiason more likely to support the project, he said.

District 3 Commissioner Jim Nelson said paving the road would impact the county budget.

“We can pave it, but what ain’t we going to have?” he said after the meeting. “Is the sheriff not going to hire people? Is the sheriff not going to have new cars? Is the Highway Department going to turn back three or four trucks? Is DHS going to leave people out on the street?

“It’s all to do with money.”

In other action, the board granted 3.2 beer licenses to Oak View Golf Course and Harmony Park. The board approved a 2 a.m. closing time for Harmony Park.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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