Most Bonner County rural drivers have probably had occasions to observe some of our rural roads suffered a variety of maladies this spring, some of which significantly impacted travel. Adding to the frustration of driving through mud, is waiting for the road base to dry up enough to begin doing repairs. I attempt to not overuse the locals’ cliché of: “Whoa, you think your road is bad now, you should have seen the roads we had around when I was a kid growing up.”
Our roads have seen dynamic improvements in the past several decades, but this spring has created some irritating inconvenience for many drivers, including quite a number of road issues in places they have not been seen before. We are now compiling a list of priority road repairs to be completed during our construction season that were not foreseen at all when we were planning for this summer and fall. Life in my office has been so chaotic dealing with weight limits and special needs recently that this letter has been weeks in writing. fortunately with those delays, weight limits are being lifted and the use of county roads will soon be returning to normal.
One of the sure-tale signs of spring are the requests that come pouring in for more speed limit signs and requests for the county to lower speed limits. The snow is off the roads, construction season is underway and the residue of the winter’s sanding is putting dust in the air — all of which increase speeds people are driving or the appearance of how fast they are going. Speed limit signs, although frequently requested, do very little to slow down inconsiderate and reckless drivers. Last year, a resident requested signs that he had been driving past for 10 years and had never even seen. Road & Bridge does not subscribe to the concept that simply putting up more speed limit signs will slow people down.
We are busy with our road graders restoring gravel road surfaces all over Bonner County as the roads dry out. We are operating sweepers on the paved roads throughout our system, cleaning up the residuals from our winter sanding. Our winter maintenance costs approximately $2,000,000 and that does not include sweeping the sand off in the spring. Mag chloride applications will begin in May, after we have been able to get roads back in shape.
Please be courteous on our rural roads, your driving does affect those people living nearby. For those of us driving gravel roads regularly, slowing your speed a little will help the longevity of the road surface.
Steve Klatt is director of Bonner County Road & Bridge. He can be reached at 1500 Highway 2, Suite 101, Sandpoint; by phone, 208-255.5681, ext. 1; by fax at 208-263-9084; or by email at email@example.com.