MARSHALL - Residents of Coon Creek Township are concerned about trucks hauling gravel along a three-mile stretch of road northwest of Russell. The truck traffic is dusty, tough on the road surface and a potential hazard for smaller vehicles, township representatives said. After discussion at Tuesday's meeting of the Lyon County Board, county commissioners agreed something needed to be done.
Commissioners voted in favor of supporting the township's request to post a lower speed limit for 210th Street between Lyon County Road 15 and Lyon County Road 13.
Coon Creek Township Board Chairman John Kerr and Township Clerk Lori Grant addressed the board members. Kerr and Grant said 210th Street is heavily traveled by trucks hauling gravel or hot mix asphalt for road projects. Five different gravel pits are operating in that part of the township.
Lyon County Planning and Zoning Administrator John Biren said the gravel from pits in Coon Creek Township is used mainly for government projects at levels from local to state.
Grant said the traffic on 210th Street kicks up dust and creates ruts and washboarding on the unpaved township road. The township has treated the road with calcium chloride to help control the dust, but doing additional treatments to keep up with the level of truck traffic is costly. And, she said, "It can be very dangerous because you have semis meeting semis." While the road is wide enough for two trucks to get by each other, cars or other vehicles traveling behind a semi are at risk.
"It's even worse because the cars are in the dust," she said.
"I think we need to be involved," said Commissioner Rick Anderson.
Biren said there were several possible ways to try and slow trucks down besides posting a lower speed limit. The township could request a speed study from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, "But it would probably take some time," he said. Other options could include revoking conditional use permits for the gravel operations and putting in additional conditions for speed.
The county doesn't normally post signs on township roads, commissioners said. However, Commissioner Steve Ritter said he was in favor of posting a lower speed limit and revoking CUPs.
Grant said stricter permits wouldn't fully address the problem. Truck drivers who don't work for the pit operators might not care about following conditions, she said.
Commissioners asked about the possibility of enforcing speed limits on 210th Street. Lyon County Sheriff Mark Mather said county law enforcement might have manpower problems with enforcing a new limit. It might also set a precedent for other township roads, he said. Ritter and Grant disagreed.
"There is no other road that has five gravel pits on three miles of road," Grant said.
County Attorney Rick Maes said although it would take time, applying for a speed study was probably the best route for the township to take. Commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter of support for Coon Creek Township's concerns.
At Tuesday's meeting, commissioners also heard an update on an insurance settlement for a 2011 truck lost in a fire at the Cottonwood highway shop in February. Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said the insurance adjuster was offering to increase a $105,000 settlement to $120,000, based on updated dealer quotes.
Ritter said he thought the offer still seemed low, especially given the age and condition of the truck before the fire. Plus, he said, "We never really found out what these quotes are from," or how the truck's value was calculated.
Ritter moved that Stomberg get an additional appraisal for the truck, and Stensrud suggested that Lyon County Highway Superintendent Jim Thomasson also talk to dealers to help get a sense of what a new truck's value would be. The motion passed unanimously.