The 2022 Dodge County budget approved last week by the county board calls for $9 million in highway improvements.

Dodge County Highway Commissioner Brian Field said he does not foresee Dodge County borrowing any additional funds for highway improvements after 2022.

“The recently adopted federal infrastructure bill will hopefully result in some highway improvement funds for Dodge County,” Field said. “This will allow us to fund projects with resources from federal and state revenues for some time in the future.”

Field said his department is currently in the design phase for the reconditioning and repaving of nine section of county highway totaling nearly 32 miles.

The projects funded by the $9 million include:

• County Highway T from State Highway 16/60 to County Highway S in the Town of Astico (4.4 miles)

• County Highway Q from State Highway 19 to County Highway K in the Town of Richwood (6.2 miles)

• County Highway C from U.S. Highway 151 to State Highway 26 in the Town of Trenton (3.3 miles)

• County Highway J from State Highway 16/60 to County Highway G in the Town of Lowell near the Village of Leipsic (5.1 miles)

• County Highway N from County Highway P to east county line near Hartford (2 miles)

• County Highway V from State Highway 67 to State Highway 49 north out of Mayville (7.5 miles)

• County Highway J from State Highway 26 to County Highway M near the Village of Clyman (1.5 miles)

• County Highway E to Lake Drive in Hustisford (0.9 miles)

• County Highway TW to County Highway Y to County Highway V (1 mile)

Field said the current interest rates are considerably lower than the rate of the inflation.

“These projects can be completed now at a lower cost than if they were done in future years at inflated rates,” he said “This schedule allows us to avoid costly short-term maintenance repairs necessary to keep failing roads safe until we can recondition and repave them.”

Field stressed the Dodge County highway system totals 540 miles of county highway, which is second in the state to Marathon County, which plows approximately 640 center line miles.

Fields’ crews also plow 227 center-line miles of state highway.

Field said center line is a term for one mile of a single roadway, regardless of the number of lanes. He said if a road is divided, mileage is not doubled. Lane mileage refers to a multiple of continual driving lanes and center line mileage.

“It is imperative that we do all that we can to make timely improvement to provide safe travel and minimize costs,” he said.

If keeping the highways in good shape is not enough work, Field said his department is down two highway maintenance technicians.

“These are the people who operate plow trucks,” he said. “Though a bit understaffed we are set to provide a high level of service. Maintaining adequate levels of trained drivers is a bigger challenge than ever for us and many agencies in the public works business.”

He said the private contractors that typically provide service to the towns in Dodge County are also struggling to find plow drivers. He said a couple of towns have already approached him to see if he can provide adequate snow and ice removal services.

His department already plows for the towns of Elba, Shields and Clyman.

“We have agreed to help when we can, but only after the state and county highways have been cleared and salted,” Field said. “It will be very important for drivers to pay attention to conditions when traveling on poor weather days.”

He said he doesn’t believe the staffing shortage is short-term problem.

“We will need to develop some alternatives such as reliable part-time staffing or public-private partnerships to provide an adequate level of snow and ice control services at all levels,” Field added.

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