Snowy rural roads keeping Linn County plow crews busy

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 6:43 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Linn County Engineer Brad Ketels says crews have put in more than 850 hours of overtime over the last couple of weeks clearing the roads. Linn County Secondary Road Department takes care of more than 1,200 miles of road outside of city limits.

Mark Henderson is one of the workers putting in long hours to keep the roads safe.

“It can be tiring and stressful with the condition and traffic sometimes is an issue,” he said. “It can be overwhelming a little bit.”

The steady snowfall on some days, with drifting snow it seems every day, has him treating the same roads multiple times.

“Try to get on these roads and open them up again to passable traffic as quickly as possible,” he said.

Spanish Road, close to Ely is one of the rural roads that needs some extra care. It’s a tricky stretch because it is a mix of paved and gravel roads.

Henderson says paved roads can be treated with a salt sand mix and sunlight helps the snow melt faster. Gravel roads need motor graders to clear. “It’s packed ice and snow and it takes some time to scrape through that,” he said.

Ketels says the department is buying new tools to help break the ice. “Trucks that have underbody blades,” he says. “So they have a blade kind of in the middle of the wheels. That does allow you to get down pressure on the blades allows that.”

Those won’t come until next year. Until then, Henderson is pleading for drivers to be patient. “Need to be more familiar with the weather conditions and the obstacles that we’re facing,” he said. “And understand we’re doing the best we can with public safety.”

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