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All things highway

All things highway was the topic during the Prescott Kiwanis meeting May 30, as Pierce County Highway Commissioner Chad Johnson talked about the department to those in attendance at United Church of Christ.

Johnson briefly mentioned his background, stating he was a Hastings (Minn.) High School graduate, went to school at Marquette and earned a Civil Engineering degree. He previously was a project manager for Hoffman Construction in Black River Falls before being hired by Pierce County in 2009.

"We don't have a slow time," he explained, as the winter is planned for summer and road construction projects.

And in regard to projects, he reminded about the $7 million the county borrowed last year to pay for road and bridge repairs throughout the county. The borrowing was done, as the county was facing a $40 million deficit of repairs, as levy and state funds were unable to keep up.

"It won't bring us whole, but it is definitely an effort," Johnson said, when the board approved the funds last year.

One of those projects the seven million will go toward was the resurfacing of CTH F, which piqued the interest of those who were there Thursday.

"It's our highest traveled county road," Johnson said, explaining the rationale. Other projects he mentioned were a reconstruction of CTH K, the Martell bridge, along with further bridge repairs on CTHs N and EE.

Other subjects discussed included:

--Roundabouts: "I personally have no problem with them," he said, yet understanding the concerns drivers face in the winter while they're being plowed. He later said he doesn't foresee any roundabouts coming to county highways.

--Expanding more on winter, he noted he passes on the praises to those intended and he deals with the complaints. More often than not, the complaints subside when he directs them to a FAQ story the highway department releases to various outlets before the first snowfall.

--The elongated 2013 winter put a serious dent into his allocated budget. "It better not snow all of October, November or December," he joked as his budget runs every calendar year.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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