Road Reflections

Winter 2021: potholes and speed, mailboxes and garbage cans

By Steve Klatt
Reader Contributor

Once again, the Bonner County Road Department is confronting a peculiar phenomenon — we are having some unusual winter weather. I hope that observation did not knock the wind out of you, much as the potholes on our county roads are likely to do. Especially if you are one of the many drivers driving too fast on our gravel roads and compounding the very problem they are calling our office to complain about.

A brief explanation on the structural challenges of gravel road maintenance we are facing: The roads were frozen and snow-covered on New Year’s Eve; and, after four days of rain, were only partially thawed on the surface. People were then driving over muddy spots in an otherwise rock-hard road and creating potholes wherever any thawing had occurred. 

There seems to be absolutely no recognition among a large portion of our local drivers that excessive speed on gravel roads guarantees the failure of existing road surfaces and any repairs we may try to accomplish. Folks, if you are driving gravel roads this time of year, you can choose to slow down or the potholes you create will slow you down eventually.

A couple of other things to keep in mind when the snow does return to Bonner County this winter are: 1. If you can wiggle your mailbox on its post and frame, the weight of the snow wave we create as we plow will almost certainly knock your mailbox into the ditch; 2. Garbage cans cannot be placed in the plowed road surface for pickup. I have told our drivers they do not have to alter their plow routes to get around a garbage can in the road, they only have to slow down for the can. These cans will also end up in the ditch if they are in the plowed county roads.

Folks, we are trying to keep our roads safely maintained and in drivable condition under some trying conditions, but please keep in mind, these are your roads, too, and we all need your cooperation.

Steve Klatt is the director of the Bonner County Road and Bridge Department.

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