Myron Parizek spoke to the Vinton Kiwanis Club this week and addressed the many jobs that are required of the Secondary Roads Crew. Parizek will have been with Benton County 35 years this January.
He began his presentation laying out briefly the Benton County lines which extend from Dysart, to a few miles north of Urbana and down as far as Blairstown. The county maintains 1,200 miles of roads and 900 of that is gravel, which takes up most of their time to maintain. There are 250 miles of pavement and the rest are dirt roads. And then he told just a little bit of what the road crew does throughout the year. He listed most of their tasks when it came to maintaining the roads.
Secondary Roads has 10 snowplows that cover the paved roads with each driver maintaining about 20-25 miles each. There are also 13 road graders that take care of 70-75 miles of rock roads each along with about 8-10 miles of dirt road. The dirt roads are sections of the road that are not maintained in the winter and are exactly that, dirt. The snow isn't plowed from these roads and nothing is done with the roads until spring. These roads are most often used for agricultural needs, like access to fields.
Secondary roads also maintain the care and replacement of culverts that run under the roads. The road crews spend about 5 or 6 months of the year just doing this kind of work.
During the springtime with 900 miles of road. there is constant hauling of rock, and reshaping of the roads. The road is shaped by putting a small rise in the center of the road, much like a roof so that the water will run off the road. Of course, with traffic, ruts form, water collects, and potholes are created. Parizek said that the rock starts out at 1" which breaks down gradually through the winter, absorbing water, then breaking down completely..
Between 120 and 150,000 tons of rock are moved each year to cover the 900 miles of rock roads. A lot of that is hauled by the county employees but the county hires local truckers to help with the job.
Secondary Roads also takes care of things like adding or moving field entrances. The county handles about 120 requests per year either widening them for larger equipment or adding new drives for housing. These are done at cost to property owners. The crews are also the ones who apply oil for dust control when requested.
The hard surface roads are also maintained by the department. Filling pot holes or any other repairs that are needed. This work probably goes unnoticed most of the time. But in the winter, they are noticed immediately upon every snowfall, usually within hours of a storm. During the winter, the crews run from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. officially, but with pre-check and post-checks of their equipment, their day can easily be 14 or 15 hours long.
Parizek said that most of the winters lately have been mild, but there have been winters that the crews have had to run 7 days a week. In those cases, if the weather breaks in the middle of the week, the crews will get days off as long as the weather holds. He said that retention has been high in his department with only a few quitting over the years..
This year Parizek is designing plans to resurface the road that runs from Vinton east to the Oak Grove Church (County Home Road), then the road that runs from Shellsburg north to the Cedar River, and paving the rock road that goes from the Oak Grove Church to Center Point. This road has had all of the bridges and culverts replaced and the road has also been widened. He's hoping to be able to have the plans ready for contractors in the spring for the next road work season.
Parizek said that the Highway 30 project at the 21st Ave. and Highway 30 intersection, south of Van Horne and north of Belle Plaine, should have the southbound lanes out of Van Horne open this week.
The IDOT has scheduled work on the bridge near Prairie Creek Church and it is supposed to be an 8-week project sometime next year.
A huge Thank You to our Secondary Roads Crew! This group of men keeps us all on the roads, all year long! You guys are the best!