Submitted by Bobbie Harder
One of the many responsibilities of Sibley County is to plan for immediate and long-term transportation and safety needs of the County. For many decades, flooding has occurred along Scenic Byway 6. The yearly flood events have a long term impact for residents and businesses. For residents, commuting time to and from work is extended and businesses may be closed. This can have a significant financial impact to families and local businesses.
Growth along the Eastern side of Sibley County has been tremendous. In 2017, there were 11 permits for new dwellings. As of November for 2018, the number of permits for new dwellings has grown to 25. The potential threat of flooding has not slowed this growth. With an increase of residents to the area, safety is of concern. For example, many residents use Scenic Byway 6 for walking, biking, and other recreational activities. Part of the road has little to no shoulder width which increases the potential of injuries or fatalities if residents are hit by vehicles.
When roads are closed, many residents will use roads which are the quickest to reach their destination. Often residents will use Township roads which were not built to handle the excess number of vehicles. This is costly to Township residents. When Scenic Byway 6 is closed, there is a cost to residents as Sibley County needs to provide additional maintenance. In 2018 the cost of additional maintenance has been nearly $52,000.00.
Sibley County has been working on flooding concerns. Some of the areas to reconstruct Scenic Byway 6 to correct the flooding concerns, pavement strength, shoulder width, and safety issues for residents is nearly cost prohibitive. The cost to correct all of the concerns is over 18 million dollars. Therefore, Sibley County has been looking at alternative solutions.
Earlier this year, Senator Scott Newman and Representative Glenn Gruenhagen agreed to author a bill in the 2019 legislative session to obtain funding to assist Sibley County in correcting the flooding and safety issues residents face each year. Pre-filing of bills for the legislative session begins around the middle of December.
Many residents and businesses have voiced that flooding needs to be addressed and this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to become involved. Residents, businesses, and organizations that have been impacted by flooding events are encouraged to write a letter of support for this effort. This is an opportunity for elected officials of the State of Minnesota to hear how flooding impacts all of us. Please address the letters to the Transportation Commissioner and explain why improving Scenic Byway 6 is important.
Letters of support can be sent to the Public Works department in Gaylord, e-mailed to TimB@co.sibley.mn.us or BobbieH@co.sibley.mn.us. The letters of support are needed by December 15, 2018. Thank you for your assistance.
Please contact me if you have questions or wish to comment on the County’s performance at home 507-665-3642, by cell 507-479-3250 or e-mail BobbieH@co.sibley.mn.us.