Officials asked to give more attention to route that regularly turns into impassable quagmire
The popular joke has it there are two seasons in Wisconsin — winter and road construction.
However, the Saukville Town Board found itself in an in-between season last week, when residents complained about winter’s ravages on their gravel road.
Michelle Densow told the board her family’s home on Echo Lane has become inaccessible at times because the roadway is deeply rutted and muddy.
“A delivery person had the muffler on their car torn off while driving on the rough road,” Densow said.
“I was asked who is going to pay for the damage. If it was on my driveway, I think I would be responsible — but this is a town road.”
She said the alignments on several of the family’s vehicles have also been damaged by the ravaged road and mail delivery is sometimes interrupted because mail carriers cannot reach the family’s home.
Louis Densow said the problem has gotten gradually worse over the years, noting that farm fields lining the rural road are higher than the roadway, so water naturally flows onto the gravel way.
He suggested ditches need to be cleared so that water is better channeled away from the roadway.
Supr. Curt Rutkowski, who handles most road complaints for the town, said stone has already been poured onto the softest areas of the road to make it passable.
“It has been a very wet winter,” Rutkowski said, adding that heavy truck traffic from a nearby home under construction has damaged the roadbed.
He said the town would have the road regraded when weather permits, probably in May.
Although sympathetic, Rutkowski said, “the real problem is you live on a gravel road.”
Town officials have tentatively scheduled their annual road tour for April 14, when Echo Lane and other problem areas in the township will be explored.
At Rutkowski’s suggestion, the board is also considering an ordinance spelling out that it is illegal to dump plowed snow from private driveways into the public road right-of-way.
“I don’t plow my snow into the road, even though it would be easier and save two or three minutes, because I know it is not the right thing to do,” the supervisor said.
Still, after every significant storm, some snow is simply pushed from driveways onto the roadway, where the freezing weather can turn those snowbanks into obstacles.
Jim Proefrock, owner of Jim’s Excavating which has the town’s plowing contract, said the wings on several of his plows have been damaged by such unexpected “icebergs.”
“The problem isn’t with the homeowners, but the plow jockeys who are in a hurry to get to the next driveway,” Proefrock said.
Faced with the ongoing problem of enforcement if an ordinance was adopted, town officials said it might be just as effective if letters are sent to property owners that continue to plow snow into the road.
“A little legal language might be enough to get them to do the right thing,” Rutkowski said.
In his summary of what officials hope is the end of the plowing season, Proefrock said the biggest challenge this winter was the three-day storm that dumped 15 inches of snow on the area in mid-March.
“That was nasty,” especially because the snow continued, forcing his crew to clear town roads as many as three times, he said.
“I think we did a fair job compared to the county. If I was to grade myself, I think I would probably give a B,” Proefrock said.