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Windmill traffic causing road trouble for area residents

The activity surrounding the Hale County Wind project is further deteriorating the roads in its vicinity and nearby Hale County citizens want the commissioners to do something about it.

During a Friday morning work session, Hale County Commissioners heard complaints from a few individuals who say they’re having lots of trouble getting down their dirt roads.

Dan Houchin, who lives in the area, claimed countless roads across precinct 2 are damaged and the heavy machinery associated with carrying the windmills are making some of them worse. He also complained of the crews pouring caliche on some of the roads and questioned the commissioners about who would continue road maintenance once the windmills are in place.

Houchin took photos of the roads and shared them with the court.

County Commissioner Mario Martinez, precinct 2, said part of the damage is due to a mix of rainy weather and the heavy machinery. Right now is not a good time to fix it without making the situation worse, he said when the citizens accompanying Houchin questioned him.

“We’ve had a lot of rain,” Martinez said. “Before that, we had no rain. Dan’s right.”

The roads have been driven on so much but there just has not been the right time to work on them, he said.

“We need it to stop raining so we can go and fix them,” Martinez said. But Alesha Walker, who is scheduled to speak on the same subject to the commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, said she finds that difficult to believe because she’s allegedly asked for the commissioners to look into the same problem repeatedly.

Monday’s Commissioners Court agenda shows Walker is scheduled to show emails and photos of the complaints to the court.

The road conditions existed before the construction on the wind farm began, Walker said. She claims the roads are not crowned – or sloped to allow water to drain off – and had collapsed culverts before windmill traffic started.

“We’ve been told for three years that we can’t build the roads up because there’s no moisture,” Walker said. “We now have a compact problem that we have terrible roads to start with.” Houchin said he, his son, individuals they work with and Walker struggle to get to and from work and school each day as a result of the roads they described as flooded and deeply rutted.

“We need to crown those roads,” Houchin said. “You need to get down there and supervise those guys doing that.”

Hale County Judge Bill Coleman said the county, Xcel Energy and the Texas Department of Transportation have an agreement that TXDOT will fix whatever road damage is created as a result of construction on the wind farm.

Messy roads are a factor the county has to contend with in exchange for the “benefits of wind energy,” he said.

Martinez said: “We wanted the windmills. They’re bringing revenue to the county. We have to weigh one or the other. When you get something, something else has to come with it. I understand Dan’s perspective. I wish we could do something with it but we can’t. It’s too wet.”

Walker later told the commissioners she understands the potential conditions associated with living on a dirt road but she wants help.

“We’re looking for a resolution,” she said.

The court also heard a quick overview of activities the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has had going on. Officials with the Extension Service told the court about several kid-friendly activities they’ve had.

The court took no actions during the work session but reviewed much of what will be discussed during Tuesday’s 9 a.m. meeting.

In addition to the road conditions, the court is scheduled to review and consider approval of the following:

” A service agreement for forensic pathology services with the new Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office

” Amend the cost of repairs to the front of the tax office from $3,000 to $3,400

” Sign and ratify the County Child Welfare Services Non-financial agreement