Throughout December and January, county commissioners were besieged with complaints about gravel roads turning to mud.
While road crews have put down gravel as fast as they could, a different brand of complaint has surfaced: The new gravel is too rough.
The problem is the size of gravel. Road crews used standard 1 1/2 inch rock at first, but high demand from surrounding counties depleted the stock rapidly. The county switched to 1 3/4 inch gravel, but that’s gone, too.
Forced to work with what’s available, Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said they’ve been putting down gravel that’s 1 1/2 by 2 inches.
It’s a difference drivers have noticed, and some are not pleased with the noticeably rougher ride or the perceived extra wear and tear on their tires.
“One of our prizes in the south end had a comment about it,” Commissioner Randy Dallke said Monday. “This one says he’s going to send all of his tire bills into us.”
Crawford said he’s also heard complaints, but maintains the larger gravel is working better than the standard size.
“If you would take a trip up here on Remington, we just rocked that a month and a half ago with inch-and-a-half, and there’s nothing left,” he said. “It’s just mud.”
“Cedar St., north of U.S. 56 there, that first part up to the bridge, that’s almost all gone,” Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.
Rain and snow have kept the roads moist, and the smaller gravel has sunk into the roadbeds, Crawford said. The larger gravel is faring better.
“It’s a little rougher riding, but the traffic is actually creating a solid base and it’s holding up,” Crawford said. “I’ve had a lot of complaints about the 1 1/2 by 2 inch rock, but honestly, you want to talk about taxpayer savings, that’s taxpayer savings because the rock is still there in a month.”
As for rough gravel and tire wear, Crawford and Holub suggested rural drivers needed to be equipped for the conditions of life in the country.
“What I’ve noticed is a lot of them buy cheap brand tires, the two-ply, and the cords are showing when I go to see their tires,” Crawford said.
“I don’t think you can drive these things with anything less than six-ply and get by with any chance of survival,” Holub added.