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Keeping an eye on road conditions

County talks weight restrictions

PRINCETON — County road conditions are an area of concern as winter’s frigid and snowy conditions finally appear to be turning toward springtime.

At this week’s meeting of the Bureau County Board in Princeton, Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Sondgeroth said it’s been a rough winter, and there will be weight restrictions posted on county roads, though none had been set as of Tuesday evening. When the spring thaw comes into play, county roads could be posted at any time, he said.

County roads do not have the same substructure as state roads, and weight limits have to be posted, Sondgeroth said. Also, the shoulders of the county roads are soft, and drivers should be careful not to get off the road onto the shoulders, he added.

So far, there hasn’t been “bleeding” on the roads yet, which is when the water below the surface oozes to the top of the pavement, and at that point, heavy traffic needs to stay off those roads, Sondgeroth said, adding once roads are posted, they are typically posted for 90 days at the discretion of Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross.

Depending on the weather, weight limits could be lifted for a period of time. But farmers should try to get their grain hauled before roads are posted, as well as take care of any livestock or seed deliveries. If there is a specific concern about a specific road for a specific time, the person should call the county highway department to get permission prior to the need.

The county highway department has developed an email list to keep people up-to-date on road postings, and farmers are encouraged to take advantage of that service. Or, they can call the highway department for the needed posting information.

People are encouraged to show respect and honor the weight limits in order to not damage the roads. The frost went deep this year, and it will take a long time for the frost to work its way out, Sondgeroth said.

In other business, the county board heard from Michael Speerschneider, representing the Pittsburgh-based EverPower Wind Co. which is currently in negotiations to buy the Big Sky Wind Farm in northern Bureau County. Concerning the county’s existing decommissioning plan with the Big Sky wind farm, EverPower Wind would like for the county board to agree to a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan, rather than keep the cash-on-hand arrangement in existence with Big Sky, Speerschneider said.

After questions and discussion, the county board agreed to refer the request back to the county’s zoning committee for further research and a possible recommendation at the board’s meeting in April.

In other wind farm issues, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann informed the board there is Illinois Senate Bill 3263 under consideration which would take control of wind farm projects from local counties and place it in the hands of the state. Board members were encouraged to contact their legislators to voice their opinions on the bill.

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