Snow removal a hot topic at county board meeting

MARSHALL – Last week’s snow has started to melt away, but the cleanup efforts were a topic of discussion at the Lyon County Board’s regular meeting Tuesday. In the wake of last week’s snowstorms, Commissioner Steve Ritter said he wanted to discuss issues with improper snow removal in the county.

There have been incidents where county residents have pushed snow into roadways, Ritter said. At one site, Lyon County Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar said, there were concerns about who could be penalized for snow pushed across a road and into the right-of-way along another person’s property.

If the issue was addressed in county ordinances, Ritter said, “I think the ordinance needs to be addressed.”

Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said he reviewed both state statutes and county snow removal policies.

“The statute requires that snow not be left on the roadway, and the (county) policy says you can’t push snow across the roadway,” Maes said. Kanwar added that when county plow drivers see a violation of that policy, they do call it in.

Commissioners didn’t come to a decision as to whether or not the county should notify or penalize people who violate snow removal statutes and policies. However, Ritter said it should be made known that snow can’t be pushed into or across roads.

Commissioners also gave their feedback on some possible safety improvements planned for Minnesota Highway 68 just north of Marshall. Nick Klisch, a project engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, presented two plans being considered by MnDOT for the area where Lyon County Road 33, 235th Avenue and Lyon County Road 76 all intersect with Highway 68. All three roads intersect with the highway at a sharp angle, which increases safety risks.

One possibility, Klisch said, was to realign the intersection of County Road 76 with Highway 68 and to build bypass lanes for left turns onto the intersecting roads. Total costs were estimated at $270,000. The second option, he said, would be to realign the intersections of both 235th Avenue and County Road 76, plus adding turn lanes for the County Road 33 and County Road 76 intersections. While that would be more expensive, at $610,000, it would be safer, Klisch said.

Commissioners said they were in favor of the second option.

Discussion of a county highway reconstruction project drew a more divided opinion from commissioners. Commissioner Charlie Sanow criticized the plans for a reconstruction project on Lyon County Road 10.

Kanwar presented the board with bids for the project. He recommended the county accept a low bid of about $3.6 million from Shafer Contracting Company to build a concrete road surface on County Road 10 west of Cottonwood. Overall, Kanwar said, “We had really good bids,” which came in close to an engineer’s estimate.

Sanow asked why the county didn’t ask for alternative bids for an asphalt road. Asphalt would be less expensive and allow the county to hire local contractors, he said.

Because the County Road 10 project is being completed with the help of federal aid, it needed to be planned out well in advance, Kanwar said. The plan called for a concrete surface based on a life-cycle analysis of possible materials. Kanwar said there could be an alternate bid process for county-funded projects.

Sanow said he had read research on concrete and asphalt roads. Most of the benefit of a concrete surface would be for roads with high traffic rates. On a highway like County Road 10, he said, “I don’t think you can prove there’s an advantage.”

“I would tend to disagree,” said Lyon County Board Chairman Rick Anderson. He pointed to damage on recent asphalt resurfacing projects, including on U.S. Highway 59.

“If every road that comes up from now on is going to be concrete, I’m going to be voting against them,” Sanow said.

Board members voted 4-1 in favor of accepting the bid. Sanow cast the “no” vote.

Commissioners also reviewed a draft of an updated solid waste disposal agreement for the Lyon County landfill. The agreement is generally updated whenever the landfill is issued a new solid wasted permit, said Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen.

The draft presented to the board included a change reflecting increased tipping fees at the landfill. Last year, fees went from $45 per ton of solid waste to $46 per ton.

Commissioners voted in favor of sending copies of the draft agreement out to counties that haul waste to the landfill for their review and feedback.