Flood waters have receded in many parts of the state but rural roads are still in poor condition in dozens of counties, causing headaches for motorists and the crews trying to maintain the roads.
Floyd and Chickasaw County Engineer Dusty Rolando says the weather just isn’t cooperating as cooler temperatures and above-normal precipitation are making roads difficult to repair. “Adding the best rock to it and doing blading isn’t going to heal it. What we need is Mother Nature to turn around and get dry, warm weather,” Rolando says. “Right now, we’re minimally doing some of that. We are hauling rock but there again, we need the roads to fix themselves.”
Some roads have developed large humps which motorists are forced to swerve around. According to Rolando, those are called frost boils. “If we go to level that off, what will happen is we’ll peel open the stuff that’s holding it in the road and it will open up to a volcano of mud,” Rolando says. “If you can drive around it, that’s the best thing. Over time, those humps will recede back down. It’s the force of that frost that’s slowly getting out of the ground.”
He says with farmers traveling the roads with heavy equipment, it causes those frost boils to open up and road conditions to worsen. “We get that, that’s part of the area around here, you have to get out in the fields, I get it,” Rolando says. “But that will contribute to some of those bad areas out there opening up and being worse. I understand they have to do that and I’m not going to fault anybody, it’s just that Mother Nature really needs to help us out there.”
Warmer temperatures, sun and wind help to push the frost out of the ground and allow the frost boils to disappear, according to Rolando. He says this is one of the worst years he’s seen in his two decades on the job. The forecast isn’t promising either, with temperatures in the 60s in addition to rain — and even snow — a possibility.
(Story and photo by Kellan Heavican, KCHA, Charles City)