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Roads, overtime, hard work

County talks about winter’s impact

PRINCETON — Bureau County roads are in pretty good condition in spite of the challenging winter weather conditions.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Bureau County Board, Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Sondgeroth said the county highway department has been putting in some long hours with snow removal this year.

“We’ve been overloaded with a lot of snow removal throughout the county highway system,” Sondgeroth said. “We do have enough money to meet the needs for this winter, no matter what old Mother Nature throws at us.”

However, he may have to come back to the full county board in the future to discuss amending the highway department’s budget because of those long hours, Sondgeroth said. Overtime is calculated based on an average year, but with the excessive amount of overtime that has been logged, that line item may have to be reconsidered, he said.

Sondgeroth said the highway department fund does have reserves into which it could dip, or it could possibly cut back on summer projects.

He also commended the highway department crews for their hard work this winter.

“We have an excellent staff that puts in a lot of hours. Seems like every snowstorm came on a weekend. Our highway staff works five to seven days a week to get those roads cleared off, and even after the storm is over, it takes many days to keep those roads cleared. They’re doing a really good job,” Sondgeroth said.

Prior to Tuesday’s board meeting, Bureau County Highway John Gross said there’s not been a lot of damage to county roads, especially in comparison to some other highways. County roads are in pretty good shape considering the winter weather, he said.

As far as the overtime, Gross said he budgets for 2,500 overtime hours each year, which includes not just winter snow removal work but also overtime for things like summer work projects. Since the fiscal year begins Dec. 1, this is just the start of the fiscal year and of overtime hours. If there is a problem in overtime hours later this year, the adjustment would do more with summer projects, he said.

As far as road supplies for this winter, the county still has a good supply, though there probably won’t be a big surplus this year.

In other transportation business at Tuesday’s meeting, the county board approved a $5,670 purchase of dedicated right-of-way parcels for a bridge replacement project on Backbone Road. The additional right-of-way is needed to supplement property purchased last month for $120,000.

As presented last month, Gross said the bridge replacement project was needed to make safety improvements on the hill. The work will begin as soon as possible in the spring.

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