Commissioners Still Fighting To Save Becker Road From Erosion

By MARK EVANS

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Like syndicated reruns of  a classic television show, the Ste. Genevieve County Commission’s warnings about the erosion of Becker road continue to play over and over.

In February 2017, Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson expressed concern about Fourche a DuClos Creek eating into the road bank. Even then, he was already expressing frustrations about trying to get the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to take the issue seriously.

“We’ve sent letters and pictures,” Nelson said in 2017. “We’ve been playing this game for eight years. It’s four feet from washing out.”

Trees and other growth, growing in the center of the old channel have caused the creek to get shallower and to move closer to the road over the years.

This is called channelization and could be fixed by digging out the center of the creek. Increasing environmental regulations have made that virtually impossible in recent years, though.

“We’ve sent letters and pictures,” Nelson said again in February 2018. “We’ve been playing this game for eight years. It’s four feet from washing out.”

Today the creek grows even closer to the road.

“We have to get that back on the hot plate, or we’re going to lose the road,” Nelson warned on Thursday, during the commission meeting.

He noted that a historic, slave-built 19th-century rock wall on property owned by Dave Figge, is also threatened by the creek’s encroachment.

“We talk to the DNR and the Corps twice a year,” Nelson lamented, “and all they tell us to do is plant trees on the bank.”

As Second District Commissioner Randy Ruzicka noted, not only would it take years for the root systems to sufficiently develop to make a difference in preventing the erosion, chances are they might be washed away before that even happens.

SCHMIEDER REPORTS ON PROJECT

Scott Schmieder, road and bridge foreman, reported that Vern Bauman Contracting personnel hoped to begin paving Lawrenceton Cutoff Road the next day, if it dried out enough. Hopes of getting started on the job earlier in the week were dashed by rain.

Toward the end of the meeting, he called in and said this would not be possible, due to wetness.

Meanwhile, a drive crashed into and destroyed a guardrail on the bridge on donze Road. A county employee happened to be on the scene to render assistance and to get the individual’s information.

The commissioners were going to have the sheriff’s department check on the driver’s insurance, with hopes that it will cover the damage.

Schmieder also said that oil had been delivered to the shed to go in the tank.

Schmieder indicated that the first week of May would probably be spent doing repairs on rain-damaged roads.

FAIRGROUNDS WORK DONE

First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy reported that she had spoken with fair board president Keith Skaggs. Skaggs told her  the work Special Road District A road foreman Paul Bauman did behind the flood-prone youth building worked. Skaggs said that during the recent heavy rains, the kitchen area leaked, but noting else.

Skaggs expressed appreciation that Bauman did the work.

The subject of insurance also came up when Stuppy described that conversation. Nelson said that a check in the fair board’s insurance policy showed that special events like the kart and lawn mower races are not covered.

Nelson passed word on to Skaggs that before another race is held, he had to make sure the fair board had “ample coverage.”