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Shard-laced gravel spread on roads again

Staff writer

Crushed concrete containing metal shards caused problems when it was spread earlier this year on roads in northern Marion County.

The same material is now causing similar problems after it was spread in southern Marion County.

County engineer Brice Goebel confirmed Tuesday that the same material was used on three miles of 140th Rd., where a rural Aulne resident asked to be reimbursed for four tires ruined by metal in the gravel.

Township trustees also brought a three page laundry list of complaints about roads throughout the county.

Commissioners scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. Oct. 24 to discuss what the county can do to improve its roads.

Rural Aulne resident Jerry Mendoza, for the second time in two weeks, asked commissioners Monday whether he would be reimbursed for damages caused by metal pieces in the gravel.

After the gravel used in the northern part of the county was found to contain large pieces of metal, the county ordered a large magnet to be fitted to a grader truck to remove the metal from the road.

It has not arrived, however.

“It should be coming any time,” Goebel said. “We had to redesign it a couple of times.”

Asked whether employees were able to see the metal as it was spread on the road, he said, “I see us trying to build a road.”

Mendoza asked whether commissioners had seen a photo he earlier sent of a six-inch shard of metal removed from one of his tires. He said other neighbors had similar experiences.

“One neighbor collected an entire bucket full,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza asked about the chance of getting prompt reimbursement for tire damage.

“If there is not a probability of reimbursement, I would like to know so I can begin the process to recoup my costs/inconveniences through another avenue,” he said.

Trustees from Blaine, Centre, Clark, Clear Creek, Colfax, Durham, Grant, Gale, Lehigh, Liberty, Logan, Menno, and Risley townships organized to air their own complaints.

They wrote a three-page letter citing numerous complaints. It was read aloud by group representative Jenna Dickerson.

Trustees want to know how it is determined which roads get work and how many miles of gravel rebuild have happened over the last year.

“On the five year plan in 2019, it states most of the quarries with hard rock are at least 40 miles from Marion, some as much as 70 miles,” Dickerson read.

Using softer rock from local quarries would mean less cost and time to haul rock and more time for employees to work on roads, the letter said.

Dickerson asked commissioners to provide the reasoning behind pulling graders off their assigned roads to patch other roads.

“These employees have voiced concern that when they finally return to their assignment, many of their roads are in worse condition, and it’s disheartening,” Dickerson read.

She asked whether blade patching could be done by a contractor, and what training was provided to employees.

“Multiple blade operators have expressed that their training at the start of county employment consists of being shown how to start their assigned grader and told to find a dirt road and figure it out,” she read.

The letter questioned why equipment continued to be purchased when the department was down to 11 employees.

The letter said roads become unusable because they are not maintained, and questioned why the county engineer had not been trained to inspect bridges himself rather than hiring an outside inspector.

Commission chairman David Mueller said the road department was using a new paving process on 190th Rd. and the process is showing success.

“Some people might not consider it the most important road in the county,” Mueller said.

Last modified Sept. 29, 2022

 

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