Dear Editor,

I called the county engineers office this morning. As soon as the lady on the other end of the phone answered and I started to speak I could tell she was bracing herself. I told her my name, what street we lived on and then said “this is not in any way a complaint call, we live out on these gravel roads and we know there’s nothing you can do about them right now.” I could hear the tension in her voice ease she replied: “Well, I can tell you not everyone understands that.” I went on to tell her that my call was purely for safety and just letting them know that a section of the road we travel is unsafe if you aren’t expecting it and thought they may want to send someone out to put out some flags or barricades.

So here’s your PSA. Don’t kill the messenger, don’t bite off someone’s head for something they can’t control.

Let’s talk about some simple realities here. This was THE WORST winter in almost a decade. There was no place for the snow to go, the ditches were full and now as it melts there’s no place for the water to go, the rain is also taking the frost out of the ground, which makes the roads even softer. There is NOTHING ANYONE can do about this. Your small SUV that’s struggling to get down the road weighs about 3,500 lbs, a mid-size truck weighs around 6,000lbs. The county would love to bring out rock to put on these roads to help the ruts but here’s the problem. A dump truck weighs 24,000 lbs WITHOUT any rock in it so add another 13,000 lbs to it if you still want that rock on the road. So that’s a 37,000 lb load that you’re trying to get down a road that currently can’t support your 3,500 lb SUV. It’s going to sink, it’s going to make the problem worse, not better.

So here’s what we need to do:

#1. Remember you chose to live on a rock road.

#2. Seek an alternative route, yes it’s inconvenient but when you slam through the ruts it’s a.) dangerous and b.) making the problem worse.

#3.) Allow yourself extra time to navigate the roads safely. Don’t drive on them unless you absolutely have to. Consolidate your trips, ride with a neighbor or your spouse if you can.

And finally.....

#4.) Don’t attack the person who's just doing their job answering your phone call. Don’t make someone’s day worse, choose kindness and compassion. And maybe, just maybe offer those county workers and the people in the engineer's office a “thank you.” They’ve worked hard to keep our roads in the best condition they can through one of the worst winters on record and it looks like they’ve got quite a lot of work ahead of them this spring.

Kindness and patience go a long way friends! Choose kindness!!

Jenni Birker

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