Renville County to assist more townships with road maintenance
OLIVIA -- With 711 miles of its own roads to maintain and keep clear of snow, Renville County was not actively looking for more to do. Yet the county will likely take on some added road maintenance and snow removal for townships. The Renville Cou...
OLIVIA - With 711 miles of its own roads to maintain and keep clear of snow, Renville County was not actively looking for more to do.
Yet the county will likely take on some added road maintenance and snow removal for townships.
The Renville County Board of Commissioners informally agreed during discussions on Tuesday that it would extend road maintenance and snow removal services to include Bandon and Brookfield townships in the coming year. The commissioners said the county would also be open to extending services to other townships in the years ahead as well, although it is by no means ready to take on all 27 townships in the county.
The county’s Public Works Department currently has contracts to provide snow removal services for Palmyra Township and the city of Franklin and to perform both summer maintenance and snow removal services for Birch Cooley Township.
With the current contracts, the county department is essentially providing snow removal services on 778.5 miles of road. Adding to this total will require adding staff, according to Public Works Director Jeff Marlowe. He believes the county can take on the additional work without adding equipment at this point.
The discussion Tuesday came after a committee of township and county representatives met previously to discuss township road maintenance needs. At that meeting, the county made it known that it is not interested in competing with private contractors who provide the service. It also encouraged the townships to look at forming joint powers agreements so that a number of townships could pool resources to provide the services on their own.
Marlowe and the commissioners said that the townships are not interested in forming joint powers agreements and would prefer to contract with the county for the services. They believe it will be increasingly difficult to find private contractors to perform the services in the years ahead.
One private contractor currently serving five townships has expressed his interest in eventually ending his snowplowing duties and, longer term, retiring from summer maintenance work as well. The townships are doubtful that another private individual will step forward for this business.
Seven townships are currently relying on one contractor for both summer road maintenance and snow removal. During major snow events, it can take three days to clear all of the roads in the seven townships.
Marlowe said that the county would continue to give priority to opening its county roads when it takes on the responsibility for township roads. First priority will remain with the county’s 400 miles of paved roads.
However, Marlowe said there could be instances when the logistics of snowplow routes will make it expedient to do some township roads before all county roads are completed.
The public’s expectations for snow removal services are increasing, Marlowe said.
So too is its importance. Commissioner Randy Kramer said that more county residents are commuting to jobs today, and often rely on county roads for part of that daily drive.
The commissioners will act formally on the Bandon Township and Brookfield Township requests for services at their next meeting. Marlowe said he believes nine additional townships may be requesting contracts for county maintenance services in the next three to five years.