Counties turn to gravel to surface back roads

Road in central MN
A road outside of Camp Ripley in central Minnesota about 10 miles north of Little Falls in Morrison County. The decision to use gravel reflects an overall decline of the 45,000 miles of county roads and highways in the state.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Officials in some of Minnesota's counties are allowing lesser used hard surfaced roads to revert to gravel surfaces due to declining funds.

Douglas county engineer Dave Robley said the decision reflects an overall decline of the 45,000 miles of county roads and highways in the state.

Robley said funds to build and maintain the roads aren't keeping pace with deterioration. He said even in counties where population is declining there's still a need for hard surfaced roads to support the farm economy.

"Even in those areas that are declining you still have the ag products primarily to get from farm to market so you don't have the large vehicle traffic but you still have the truck traffic," Robley said.

Robley said a survey by the study group Minnesota 2020 shows that the decline in county road and bridge quality persists even though money from local property taxes to address the issue has doubled.

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