Cass County Engineer Charles Marker, Tuesday, updated the Board of Supervisors on various County road, culvert and bridge projects. Marker said the box culvert project near the Marne Cemetery is finished, but due to the wet weather, the dirt that surrounds the culvert was wet and is creating a “pumping” effect, whereby ruts are formed in the dirt. Crews are working on “healing-up” the dirt before the heavy combines and grain carts start to cross the box during the harvest. The road however is open to traffic.
In the same area, the contractor for the M-56 bridge over Interstate 80, reports the old bridge deck has been removed, and they’re getting ready to install new concrete. The detour routes meanwhile are being monitored by County crews, and there have been no reports of excessive dust or ruts in the gravel road serving as a detour during construction, which primarily takes place during the nighttime hours.
Marker says mud is appearing on gravel and paved roads from various pieces of ag equipment coming into and out of the fields. County crews are trying to get that swept off the roads as much as possible, but once it dries out, the mud will turn to dust and make for some cloudy conditions as vehicles pass by. Marker says there’s not much they can do about the dirt/dust clouds at this point because there are so many roads to cover.
And, Marker was as happy as a child at Christmas when he announced they received the two, new Caterpillar motor graders they ordered earlier this summer. One the graders – which will be housed at the Anita maintenance shed – has an added benefit of a GPS unit that receives instructions by satellite on the elevation and slope of the terrain being graded. The computer onboard the grader automatically adjusts the pitch of the grader blade to level the road in accordance with the terrain. The bonus feature (valued at approximately $2,000) was added as a surprise at no extra cost by the dealer, since it was being used as a demonstration unit. If the new feature works as well as expected, future County graders would be ordered with GPS.
Marker says normally, the grader operator has to look back at a “ball indicator”-type level mounted on the machine, to make sure the pitch and angle are correct. It’s tricky, because they also have to watch the road ahead, be on the lookout for obstructions.