County Board discusses bridge work dispute and future highway projects

Sean Ellertson

At Tuesday's County Board meeting, Lyle Bergeman brought forward the issue of his fields, as well as his neighbor's fields flooding due to prior bridgework on CD-1 west of CSAH-12. 

"We're all flooded out," said Bergeman.

Bergeman tiled the area around the bridge in 1967 and didn't lose a crop in the area until 1980, two years after the bridgework was done.

According to Bergeman's records, other bridges in the area have larger areas for drainage underneath them, while the area for drainage under the bridge at hand is approximately 40% less. 

"I don't care how big you make the ditch. It doesn't matter if the hole going out isn't going to take the water it's just going to back everything up. And the point I'm getting at is that needs to be corrected."

Bergeman also stated that "due process of law" was not done in regard to the matter in getting the signatures and approvals of the work done on the bridge.

Public Works Director Teal Spellman noted that the county board is the administrators of the ditch, while Bergeman argued that he was the landowner.

"They accepted it on behalf of all the affected landowners," said Spellman. "Just as in any other repair doesn't go to every single landowner every time, the county board accepts that for the landowners."

Also factoring into the water blockage is the 4' gradient on Bergeman's property vs. 8' gradients on other neighboring properties.

Spellman recommended that the ditch goes through the process and petitions for improvements that could lead to the redetermination of benefits.

Kelly Pauling, Chad Hildebrand, and landowners affected will meet at a future date to discuss the issues at hand.

Following the conclusion of the land discussion, Spellman also presented the board with improved efforts to fund parks and trails in the county by gauging public interest on improvements and what the community wants.

"It's time to change," said Jim Branstad. "People want more amenities."

Following Spellman's discussion with the board, the board heard a presentation from District 7 Capital Highway Investment Plan via Zoom, which contained the Statewide Transportation Program in the next four years and the Capital Highway Improvement Plan which ranges from 5-10 years.

Some of the upcoming projects in Watonwan County are:

- HWY 4 project (2024)

- HWY 15 from Madelia to Brown County line (2022)- 3.2 million project

- HWY 60 Eastbound from HWY 15 to Lake Crystal (2021)

- HWY 60 E and HWY 15- 18 million dollar project funded over two years. 

- HWY 4 St. James to Sleepy Eye (2023)

- HWY 15 south county line to the south junction of HWY 60 (2023)

- HWY 30 from HWY15 to 169 (2030)

- HWY 60 Westbound near Butterfield (2028)

The next county board meeting is scheduled for September 1st

Other items:

- Public Works:

- Cutting Edge bid from KRIS Engineering: $46,409.50

- Reimbursement agreement with railroad for a future project up to $10,000

- Salt quote from Mills & Miller for $80 a ton

General items:

- Red Rock Rural Water System Appointment

- Hold joint, public hearing for One Watershed One Plan on September 15th

- Library Copier Quote from Metro Sales- $11,675 (12K budgeted)

- Dispatch Chair Quote- $1,839

- Highway Department & TMT Glass Quote- Fairmont Glass (out of CARES money)

- Sheriff’s Office Abandoned Property

- Personnel:

- Approve hire of detention officer David Tran