Roadwork winding down

Little time is left in the construction season but some local roadwork continues.

Aaron Lawson, Edgar County Highway Engineer, reported on projects during the Nov. 6 road and bridge committee meeting with county board members. He said county highway employees are helping Kansas Township with drainage and road improvements on Sugar Camp Road.

A pavement striping project that is 90 percent federally funded has yet to start, although Lawson is hopeful the contractor will do part of the work before the end of November. He explained if the weather remains suitable the initial application of paint can be done but other parts of the striping, including installing reflective markers will wait until 2018.

Looking at the long-term, Lawson said the next five-year project plan submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation includes pavement preservation for a five-mile section of the Lower Terre Haute Road, with the work to be done in 2023.

The project involves placing a 1 1/4 –inch overly of asphalt on the existing road. He added 1 ¼-inch is the minimum acceptable to receive federal funding assistance.

Responding to a question, Lawson said the stretch of road designated for the overlay is currently in good shape but it won’t be in five years, and it is necessary to get in line now for future funding.

“The philosophy is to keep good roads good and not to put resources into poor roads first,” said Lawson.

Another future goal is a beautification effort for Springfield Road, Clinton Road and the county’s portion of the High School Road.

“We are not going to do anything at this time,” said Lawson.

The engineer expressed concern about a bill in the Illinois Senate that, if passed, gives telecommunication companies and Internet providers the ability to build medium-sized towers on local right of way without the need to obtain permission from local authorities.

“The problem is they will be in the way of road projects,” said Lawson, adding the Association of County Engineers opposes the bill and he asked board members to consider a letter of support for the engineers’ position. “We want more control over a permitting process on our right of way.”

Lawson also raised the issue of creating ordinances controlling the placement of hog farms, solar farms and wind farms in Edgar County.

Board member Derrick Lorenzen liked the idea.

“I would prefer to be more proactive,” said Lorenzen. “We need to have something in place where we let these things develop.”

Local ordinances, however, may not have much power to control some situations.

Board member Karl Farnham Jr. said all permitting for confinement hog operations is controlled by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and those regulations override any local ordinances.

“The county can have a hearing, but that’s about all we can do,” said Farnham. “We can say we don’t want it, but we can’t stop it.”

Lawson acknowledged a similar situation exists with cell towers since federal law permits companies to site such structures where wanted, but companies generally check with local government about set back ordinances and other regulations.

County board chairman Jeff Voigt directed Lawson to research the matter in more detail regarding what the county can realistic do

The Prairie Press

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