Nighthawk Rd. in need of facelift
County roads are a revolving door of improvements and repairs, but Nighthawk Road has rapidly become the most in need of attention.
In April, road and bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm received approval to have external tests performed on the 13-mile road, as well as two miles of 60th Road between Nighthawk and Limestone Roads. These tests were executed by engineers and examined the urgency and cost of prospective upgrades.
The estimated expenses total about $7.1 million, which would include external contracts, asphalt, gravel, and other materials.
“If we could find the money to fix it right the first time, it’d be a long time before we have to go back,” Hamm said.
Since the study finished a few weeks ago, the road has fallen into worse shape, because of silage trucks driving through the area every day, Hamm said.
There is a precedent for the roadwork and the project’s financial estimates. One of the major roads at the northeastern end of Marion County, 330th Road, serves as the standard for Nighthawk, county commissioner Randy Dallke said.
“Within the last year, we had done 330th Road,” Dallke said. “Nighthawk Road now is as bad as 330th was.”
Presently, driving Nighthawk requires maneuvering potholes, loose gravel, and a nonexistent shoulder.
Larry and Lea Schwart, who have been living on Nighthawk since 2004, understand the dilemma with fixing the road.
“Ideally, it should start at the highway north of us and go down to Peabody,” Larry said. “But I also know that’s not gonna happen, I’m just saying that ideally, that’s the way it should be.”
The problem with shutting down the whole road and repairing it all together is that people would lose connection to multiple highways, towns, and even emergency services, he said.
This is a factor the county takes into account and plans for, Dallke said.
“We point it out in bids a lot of the time, that people have to be able to get in and out of their homes,” Dallke said.
While Hamm noted the silage trucks, the Schwarts cited external traffic as a major source of wear and tear.
“On the weekend, the boat and RV traffic is heavy,” Lea Schwart said.
With the number of heavy trucks traveling Nighthawk every day, the ones who pay for it most are the residents, Larry said.
“The only thing we do on it is drive up to that highway and drive up to the other highway,” Larry said. “In the meantime, it’s tearing up our vehicle.”
There is also the question of where the money will come from, which the county will heavily consider before approving any work, Dallke said.
“We’re not a rich county, we have to save money,” Dallke said.
The price tag was a major reason why the project was being pushed for 2018.
According to Dallke, there is a blacktop plant four miles from Peabody and the proximity might decrease travel expenses.
Starting construction in 2018 is becoming less likely as time draws on, which would mean the funds come from next year’s budget, Hamm said.
“As late as we’re getting, it’d probably all have to come from 2019,” Hamm said.