Weather ‘Catching Up’ With County

By MARK EVANS

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With winter weather approaching, time is rapidly running out for paving and patching projects in Ste. Genevieve County.

Road and bridge foreman Scott Schmieder told county commissioners last Thursday that he needed to dig out several spots on Saw Mill Road, then repave. 

He said there is one big spot and “four or five little ones.”

“We don’t really have time to dig that out, then wait two weeks to get bids,”  Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson told him. “I think winter’s just catching up with us.”

Instead, he suggested Schmieder “go out and roll the hell out of” the road, then use the chipper  and put two coats of chip and seal over it for now.

Nelson noted that the more temperatures dip, the hot mix asphalt will  cool and harden very quickly, making paving  very difficult.

First District Commissioner Randy Bahr said that at another location, it was virtually impossible to tell a recent double chip and seal stretch from an asphalt section.

The county had to quickly abandon its annual goal of trying to pave 20 miles per year in 2020. The COVID-19 shutdown, it was assumed, would deplenish gas and sales tax too badly to make much paving feasible. Only Magnolia Hollow Road was asphalted.

Those fears were not unfounded. Nelson said fuel tax revenue is down by about $125,000, while vehicle tax is down also. 

Fortunately, sales tax revenue did not fall off as badly as feared.

“We’re not in danger anywhere,” Nelson said. “We’re sitting on $180,000 in paving money we’re not going to use.”

He said the scenario entering winter was “not bad,” budget-wise.

Schmieder reported that a tire on the rental tractor that pulls the bat wing mower, had been replaced.

Nelson also said he had been informed that another Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant for replacing older diesel dump trucks is available. The county has received three of these in recent years, for as much as $43,000 toward the purchase of a new, more environmentally-friendly dump truck.

There is also a new Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant available.  Nelson was told this one is on a “first-come, first-serve basis.”