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Dear "Mr. Not Answer" my emails,

In the spring, I wrote about my concern with the poor quality of the gravel road, 45th Street Southeast, also known as County Road 101. I do not understand why the road is still gravel.

Is it the city or the county who is responsible?

Have they tried putting a counter on the road to show how much traffic is on the road? There is a small, narrow bridge without any guardrail on it. It would be very easy to slip off loose gravel into the ditch.

Would it help if I stopped every vehicle and asked to have a petition signed to gravel the road? A lot of county and city workers use the road as a shorter route to where they are headed.

I have seen police race through the road at very fast and unsafe speeds. It is unsafe because it is a poorly maintained gravel road.

What can be done about it? I would appreciate a response.

Nancy Mork

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Nancy,

As far as I can tell, I never received your original question. Where it may have gone could be an inquiry that even I cannot answer.

Although if I did receive your earlier message, I may have passed it by because it’s a fairly easy question to answer.

As you note, the gravel road is officially designated as County Road 101, hence it is the county’s responsibility. State highways, by the way, are overseen by the state, and the interstate highways that crisscross our nation are under federal authority.

However, I can understand the confusion, since all streets in the city aren’t actually the city’s responsibility, just as all highways in the county are not county highways and all highways in Minnesota are not … well, you get the point.

Back to that rough and slippery County Road 101: You are correct about counts being done on the road.

Those counts are why Olmsted County Public Works Director Kaye Bieniek recently told one of my minions that it’s the county’s most-traveled gravel road, with close to 1,000 vehicles a day.

That status has it identified as a priority for paving when the funds are available. It was planned as a potential 2020 project, with an estimated $2.8 million construction cost, when county commissioners adopted a five-year improvement plan last year, but has been pushed back to 2021 in a draft developed this year, according to Bieniek.

Since it’s a county road, the only funding available for the project would come from the county. Unlike state-aid highways and other potential county projects, added state and federal funds aren’t avialable.

As a result, County Road 101 and similar projects need to wait on enough already-stretched county tax dollars are available to cover the entire cost of the work.

Bieniek told my lackey she supports the plan to pave the road and expects to make it happen when the funds are available.

If you want to try to influence the timeline, you can always reach out to the county commissioners to let them know your concerns. Their contact information is available on the county’s website. (I’ll add a link to this column online at postbulletin.com, which is a tad shorter than the commissioners’ web address.)

You can also attend any of the county board’s meetings to raise your concerns directly to the entire board. It will likely be safer than trying to flag down drivers on County Road 101.

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