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City and County Officials Discuss Condition of 17th Street

April 18, 2017
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

The condition of 17th Street, west from Main Street, was the topic of discussion at Emmetsburg City Council and Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors last week. Both governmental entities agree:?there is no quick fix for 17th Street.

City Council

Emmetsburg City Council discussed the condition of 17th Street at their meeting Monday, April 10. City Administrator John Bird told council members that he and Frank Kliegl, Public Works Director, would be visiting with members of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors the next morning. Bird pointed out that Dan Chism had requested 17th Street be put on the Supervisor's agenda.

Article Photos

A ROUGH ROAD – With agricultural, residential and industrial traffic all traveling on 17th Street in Emmetsburg, the road has become a problem due to potholes and cracks. The road is marked at the west end as a ‘Truck Route,’ however it is not on the federal list of farm-to-market roads in the county. With the City of Emmetsburg being responsible for the majority of the road and Palo Alto County Secondary Roads also having a responsibility, the two entities will need to work collectively to correct the problem and maintain the road going forward. -- Anesa McGregor photo

"It's a well used road," noted Kliegl. "I talked to Dan (Chism) and several other farmers. We don't want to overload the downtown with farm tractors."

"There is definitely more semi traffic (on 17th Street)," added Police Chief Eric Hanson. "I've seen more grain haulers coming off Airport Road on 17th, using it to bypass Main and Broadway. There are a lot more semis."

"We will flix it, regardless of what happens tomorrow (at the Board of Supervisors meeting)," said Kliegl. "I have another company coming in to see what we can do."

Councilman Bill Burdick questioned, "If it doesn't go to farm-to-market, is that one of those roads where you'd say no semis allowed after that?"

"You would almost have to embargo it," said Kliegl.

"Are you going to let the engineer and supervisors know if that's not a farm-to-market, no semis wil be allowed on that road in the future?" asked Burdick.

"I have already told all the supervisors I've spoken to and I've told Walter (Davis-Oeth, Palo Alto County Engineer) we're going to shut it down."

"It's not fair to the residents down there to live with that type of a street," said Kliegl. "It's going to come down to the city paying to do something."

Board of Supervisors

Representatives from the City of Emmetsburg as well as area farmers met with the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 11 to discuss the issue of 17th Street and possible ways to fix the street.

The problems with 17th Street have arisen from the heavy traffic on the road from trucks, wagons and State vehicles that travel the road. The road is also marked as a 'Truck Route' at the west end, off of Airport Road.

The mile in question begins at the corner of Madison and 17th Street traveling west to Airport Road or Hwy 18 Bypass. The majority of ownership is the City of Emmetsburg and six tenths of a mile (from the open ditch west of the community garden) to the Hwy 18 Bypass, falling under the responsibility of Palo Alto County Secondary Roads. Potholes and cracks have plagued this road for several years, becoming worse as heavy vehicle traffic has increased.

"We were here in November or December last year discussing the issues with 17th Street and looking into some possible federal funding and making this an actual farm-to-market road," Dan Chism, area farmer began. "Since then, I think you have determined it will not be a farm to market road. We are all concerned about the road condition and what we are going to do to fix it. It is currently part of the truck route and it has been paved for 25 to 30 years now."

"There is industry out there so we do need to do a better job of maintaining it," Walter Davis-Oeth, Palo Alto County Engineer stated. "The first 200 feet is garbage (referring to the west end of 17th Street).We should get that patched and fixed. We will look at doing that this year and try to piece together the worst sections for right now."

He added, "These are issues that have been here a long time and with the majority being the responsibility of the City, we need to coordinate with each other, I also struggle with this because as you go further east, this does get into residential housing and I struggle with wanting to send semis through there on what is okay pavement but will not sustain huge amounts of semi traffic running through there continuously."

Davis-Oeth went on to say that he understood that in the past they have put up embargos to restrict trucks through there, which is standard throughout the county in the Spring.

Conversations have been held between the City of Emmetsburg and Secondary Roads regarding federal funding for 17th Street and turning it into a farm-to-market road. According to Davis-Oeth, to be eligible for federal funding for repairs, 17th Street would have to be declared a farm-to-market road on the federal classification list. To do this, one mile of a current farm-to-market road would have to be eliminated.

"This would also bring up other issues such as gutter, sewer, sidewalks and other situations that will add a considerable amount to the road," Davis-Oeth said. "Above all of this, the road just needs to be maintained, I think that is why the majority of people are here."

"Is the base of the road good?" Craig Merrill, Supervisor questioned. "I mean if we get it patched will the base hold up for a few years?"

"Patches are a crap shoot on how long they will last anyway," Davis-Oeth replied. "But I think the base is suspect. It's fairly flat and it looks to be fairly wet for large parts of it. If we would plan to repave and I don't know what the City has for a budget for the next five years, but it probably doesn't include repaving this road, so it may be five years out before something more permanent can be done."

"We could resurface the road with two inches of asphalt and then allow just passenger vehicles on it and it would last longer," John Bird, Emmetsburg City Administrator said. "However, if we continue to allow our agricultural neighbors to use it, then it won't last very long at all and that's what we are looking at."

"How much does it cost to break up the concrete and asphalt over it?" Supervisor Linus Solberg asked.

I'm not a big fan of that practice," Davis-Oeth responded.

"We need to work together and tackle this problem," Bird said. "The more trucks we can prevent from Broadway and Main, the better."

Supervisors and the County Engineer agreed that the absolute worst areas of 17th Street need to be addressed first and go from there.



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