June 2017

Thanks to WCHA and The Dells

 By Brian Keierleber, PE
       NACE President

This month I attended the Wisconsin Road School at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

As this was my first visit there, I found The Dells and resort to be an excellent experience. It will be a very enjoyable location for our NACE 2018 conference. With a lot of activities—golf, water parks, duck boats, hiking, fishing—plan now to bring along your family. Be assured the Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA) will plan a memorable event for us.

The Wisconsin meeting featured some excellent presentations. Howard Preston, Senior Transportation Engineer at CH2M, was talking about safety plans and I had the opportunity to visit with him on some of my local issues regarding speed limits. Howard does a lot of his work in Minnesota.

The WCHA provided some excellent training and it didn’t feel much like I had crossed the border. The same issues existed. Deer are state property until they are hit by a car. I have been through that discussion. Bridge inspections must be on time, or the whole program is in violation. I have heard that before too. It did sound like the Wisconsin State Legislature is learning the art of budget approval from Illinois, or the lack there of timely approval. That goes back to Sovereign Immunity the old adage "The King can do no Wrong." If we tried that on the local level, we would hear from our residents.

Also this month, I participated on a conference call sponsored by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks and Senator Charles Grassley. NACE’s position is we’re opposed to allowing bigger, longer, and heavier trucks. I personally think back to an accident where a truck load of pigs overturned on one of my rock roads and the driver was upset because the radius was small. It didn’t comfort him that it was graded in the 1940s and met all the standards. There was a lot of squealing going on.

On another regulatory issue, in my state of Iowa the June 1 issue of the Quad City Times tells how 500,000 mussels must be relocated to construct a new I-74 Bridge between Iowa and Illinois at a cost of $3-3.5 million. The states have set aside $5 million. This will be one of the largest mussel relocations in U.S. history. The bridge costs are expected to be about $1.2 billion. Of the 500,000 mussels about 2,400 are considered endangered species. Pier K will remain because it provides habitat for the mussels.

I wonder if the public knew what some of these costs are, maybe they would reconsider spending on some. In Buchanan County, we can accomplish a lot with $3 million. That is far more than most of my bridges cost.

Back to more positive thoughts, the Wisconsin Dells is wonderful! You’ll love it!


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