Commissioner calls for applying chip-and-seal over 15 miles of gravel roads this year

Updated: Apr 13

MOUND CITY – Linn County Commissioner Rick James continued to push for adding chip-and-seal roads in Linn County on Monday, March 28.

James said that even though it was reported last week by Asphalt Foreman Tod Moeller that chip-and-seal did not hold up well to heavy traffic, he thought that the county should add at least five miles of chip-and-seal roads to each commissioner’s district each year starting this year.

“You can say whatever you want, but we are never going to get anywhere with gravel except to put more gravel on,” said James. “The reason they don’t want to do chip-and-seal is because they do not want to patch.”

James, who had wanted to add asphalt roads, decided that the cost of asphalt and the engineering involved was not feasible for Linn County.

At the March 21 meeting, Moeller had told the commissioners that it would cost about $213,000 per mile to pave the roads with asphalt. Chip-and-seal was around $18,000 a mile. Moeller had said that other counties were telling him that chip-and-seal needed a lot of repairs.

This week, James said that chip-and-seal was the material used in the 1970s and 1980s and it seemed to hold up well then. He said when those roads had problems, they were just patched.

“I would like to see a project started this year where each district does a few miles of new road, completely new gravel road that needs to be converted into a chip-and-seal. Because we have short distances of houses that there are several different properties on it and there is no reason we shouldn’t try to improve the county,” said James.

Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked if they had to get an engineering firm to decide on the right of way and other design considerations.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said he did not think that needed to be done because chip and seal was not really changing the roadway.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said that it was unfair to everybody else who is not getting a blacktop. If the county would work on getting the ditches fixed, the roads would be better and a lot less would be spent on gravel. After that, they could focus on chip-and-seal, he said.

Johnson said he would like to see the dirt cleaned out of the ditches. He said he had talked to landowners who said that they would allow the dirt dumped on their fields.

McCullough said his idea would be to get a crew together for three years to get the ditches cleaned out and then use the money that was saved on gravel to work on the asphalt.

“I’m for getting the ditches cleaned out,” said Johnson.

James said he really believed that if you were going to improve the county, you need to improve the road system.

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