Keeping county roads is workable shape has been a challenge this spring, but it’s been a crisis for a feedyard in the northern part of the county.
Faced with the challenge of keeping Cattle Grower’s Road in good shape to serve Lincoln County Feedyard, the county commissioners said Monday it might have to force semi-trucks to take just one road, and make it better.
The Lincoln County Feedyard on the north edge of Lincoln County has capacity for about 39,000 head of cattle. It relies on 280 semi-loads of grain and commodities each week, in addition to 30-40 semi-loads of cattle coming and going per week, Manager David Hobson told the commissioners.
The feedyard is one of the top 20 employers in Lincoln County with 78 employees, Hobson told the commissioners Monday. But the condition of the roads this spring raised concerns at times if the yard could continue to function.
Hobson said grain and fuel supplies were hand-to-mouth at times.
The soil is comprised of fine sand. Late winter weather multiplied the problems, with lots of moisture, rapid snowmelt and a sudden warm-up that pulled frost out of the ground.
The roads are troublesome in the summer too. When the weather gets hot, the roads tend to “powder,” making them unstable. It is difficult to develop a roadbed solid enough to withstand semi-truck traffic.
Hobson said the feedyard’s trucks have been damaged because of the bad roads, and the owners have devoted equipment and time to keep the roads passable.
The commissioners said the answer might be to route all semi-truck traffic on one road – Garfield Table, which would be hard-surfaced.
Load weight limits would be posted on Cattle Grower’s Road, restricting its use.
“The only way is hard-surface,” Commissioner Bill Henry said. “I don’t think we can hold a road without blacktop, especially during a spring like we’ve had.”
When asked, Hobson said the feedyard would be served if all trucks were using East Garfield.
Henry talked about the cost, which would be around $1.5 million.
“We spend about $2.1 million for all the roads in the county,” he said. “I get chills when I think about asking taxpayers for so much for just one road, when we have roads all around the country that need work.”
The commissioners suggested Lincoln County Feedyard pay some of the costs involved. Hobson seemed receptive to the concept and promised to talk to the owners about it.
“The end result is what everyone is after,” he said.
Henry added, “We’re all in it together. We’ll figure it out, but it won’t happen overnight.”
At the end of the discussion, Hobson said the feedyard is also investigating the use of crushed concrete to add stability to the roads, but he didn’t have definitive information about that yet.