The rain and melting snow have turned many of Iowa’s rural roads into a muddy mess. Some secondary roads in western Iowa are impassable. Carroll County Engineer Dave Paulson, who’s in charge of maintaining around 800 miles of gravel roads, says the main problem in his county is with potholes.
“In other places we have some ruts beginning to form. Maybe they were caused by heavier vehicles breaking through what crust there is yet,” Paulson said. “The frost seems to be in the middle of the road and that seems to be saving us right now from the roads rutting.” Shelby County Road Foreman Mike Kienast says there’s not much road crews can do to fix the gravel roads until it stops raining.
“If it keeps staying like this, you tear up roads just to get to a bad spot and then you have more roadway to repair. So, we’re kind of on hold right now,” Kienast said. There are more than 66,000 miles of gravel roads in Iowa. Richard Hansen helps maintain 650 miles of gravel surfaces as the assistant engineer in Cass County. He says there are a few spots that are too muddy for some vehicles.
“We have one or two areas where you definitely need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get through things,” Hansen said. “It’s just muddy and the more traffic that’s out there…it’s just getting worse until we get some sunshine.” Hansen says a little sun and wind will dry the mud and allow crews to blade the road and lay down some new gravel. He says farmers can help out by waiting for drier weather to haul heavy loads of grain or livestock.