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Poorer roads are down side of wind turbines

Most Greene County residents welcome the 41 wind turbines being erected by MidAmerican Energy north of Grand Junction and see them as progress for the county.

All things come at a cost, and county engineer Wade Weiss delivered news of the cost to the county supervisors at their Oct. 2 meeting. The cost isn’t financial, but it’s the condition of county roads. “We look at these things and see benefits, but it comes at a cost. Sometimes those costs are hidden,” Weiss told GreeneCountyNewsOnline.

The secondary roads crew has already patched two miles of County Road P-46 due to damage by the heavy vehicles and loads involved in the project. The patching was 1,200 square yards and cost $82,000.

Weiss has identified another 4,000 square yards of patching needed on P-46, and patching is needed on County Road E-26 due to its increased use as a detour route.

“Once we do that much patching, we’re really falling behind. Our patching isn’t keeping up with the damage that’s going on,” Weiss said.

The secondary roads department spends part of every summer patching; this summer the patching has been in Junction Township, and patching hasn’t been done other places. Weiss said county pavements have shown a lot of wear in the past three or four years, “and on top of it we have this situation.”

Weiss will have discussions about road repair with MidAmerican and the Iowa Department of Transportation. “MidAmerican has been nothing but good about discussions of repairs,” Weiss said, and he doesn’t anticipate any objections from MidAmerican in paying for the repairs. That was part of their initial agreement with the county.

The shortage is in manhours and equipment for the secondary roads department to keep up with the work.

MidAmerican is already in the planning stages of adding another 85 wind turbines in Greene County during 2018, Weiss said. That will mean additional tax funds going into the county’s coffers, “but the problem for the general public will be the general condition of the roads,” Weiss said.

The unpaved roads are also showing wear from the heavy construction equipment. Additional gravel was put on the roads before construction began because the weight of the vehicles crushes the rock. The vehicles also tend to push out the top of the road, making shoulders narrower and less stable. Weiss said it’s hard to quantify the damage done there.

Weiss will do an inventory of the roads and damage done to them. He said damage will total millions of dollars.