OTC has 142 bridges, 1,062 miles of highway to maintain

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County commissioners, on March 28, approved a bid for roadway edgeline markings from an Edina company, the only bidder, in the amount of $391,945.

Edgeline markings provide important guidance and information for road users. They delineate the edge of a roadway and/or travel lane and can be used as a safety feature to provide road users with additional guidance around curves or over hills.

In addition, according to County Engineer Charles Grotte, edgelines are useful in adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow and fog. 

Edgelines can also be used to establish shoulders, parking lanes and bike lanes in order to indicate areas where travel is not permitted on the side of a paved surface. 

“We have a large county, bigger than the state of Rhode Island,” says Grotte, “with 1,062 miles of highway, all of which are bituminous.”

Otter Tail County also has 142 bridges.

“Paint for roadway projects is up close to 30 percent from a year ago,” said Grotte to county commissioners on March 28. “While a 30 percent increase may seem like a lot, I need to point out that some neighbor counties have seen paint cost increases as high as 60 percent.”

Grotte also reviewed with county commissioners roadway surface improvements in the Henning area, bridge replacements, right of way brush and weed control and contracts and bonds related to hot mix bituminous.

Otter Tail County, since 2016, has administered a half-cent sales tax. Money from this tax is used for road and bridge maintenance. Also taking effect in 2016 was a county charge of $10 added to vehicle license tab renewals, later increased to $20 per vehicle in 2018. This money also goes to road and bridge maintenance.

County commissioners, over the years, have emphasized to county taxpayers that the half-cent sales tax and license fees are necessary. That’s because, according to commissioners, other funding sources (state, federal, and county levy taxes) have fallen short of what has been needed for road and bridge maintenance in recent years.