County road plan to address multiple issues

? ?Mudders,? overloaded farm trucks, farmers cultivating into road ditches motivate response.

This dirt road north of Hillsboro shows the residual damage caused by ?mudders? following rain that fell almost two weeks ago. Randy Crawford, the county?s road and bridge director, is asking the public to call the sheriff?s office when they observe ongoing abuse to see if more violators can be caught. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

The mudders are at it again.

Following recent heavy rains that have left Marion County dirt roads in water-sodden condition, Randy Crawford, county road and bridge director, confirmed that four-wheel-drive vehicles are again being used to tear up county roads.

These are the same roads that many farmers rely on to get to fields, and that must drain properly?rather than having their crowns torn down by heavy abuse, he said.

Crawford called upon the public to watch for mudders, and to call the sheriff?s office to report ongoing abuse to see if some more violators might be caught.

He also called for harsher judicial penalties to help stop the road abuse.

Another continuing abuse, he said, is the number of overloaded farm trucks traveling on rural roads over bridges with inadequate weight limits established long before such heavy trucks were in use.

Bridges also deteriorate over the years, and it?s only a matter of time before such a bridge collapses, he said.

Crawford showed one weight ticket that probably was mistakenly left with him for a Marion County semi trailer hauling feed from Junction City that was 20,000 pounds overweight.

It?s no wonder at all, he said, that the rural roads on routes this person travels are damaged.

Crawford said road complaints should be called into his office at 620-382-3761.

His department is spread thin enough, he said, that the public may see things county personnel haven?t seen yet.

Possibly the major problem for Marion County roads, Crawford said, is the gradual narrowing of roads over a century of use.

Continual cultivation into road ditches has narrowed roads to where some are a mere 15 feet wide, and landowners are cultivating where they don?t even know ditches should be.

Crawford said he wants to remind the public that by state and federal regulations, earth ?dirt? roads should be 22 feet wide, minor aggregate surfaced roads should be 24 feet wide, major aggregate surfaced roads should be 26 feet wide, and bituminous surfaced roads should be 28 feet wide.

With the cooperation of the Marion County Commis?sion, he is planning a program that will return most roads to appropriate widths two miles at a time.

If the county were to continue with a requirement of a gravel windrow left along roads after grading, he said, you can add two feet of width to the requirements.

Ditches don?t necessarily have to be deep, he said. The deepest one the county has that is within correct standards is two and a half feet deep.

Crawford said the road crown can be very low, but it has to be there.

It will take major correction, he said, if roads are to be corrected to width in areas where the road has eroded to be lower than the adjacent land.

?You have to have a road before you can have a ditch,? Crawford said. ?And you have to do something about mudders to keep it all there.?

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