By: Katherine Trowbridge
They say a picture is worth a thousand words - the picture above is of Gill Road in N. Franklin County.
The condition of roads in Franklin County has been a topic that has set heavy on the minds of farmers, drivers, and even those seeking political office over the years. Despite some improvements to the major roadways, the topic continues to be big for Franklin County.
The quick snow melt off and subsequent run off that incurred led to more road issues throughout the county. But, it’s not just run off that is causing issues. The Labor Day fire damage from 2020 is still not repaired on Burr Canyon Road, located above Windust (pictured on pg 4). The county seemed to be having a difficult time getting FEMA money to repair the damage, among other issues. However, the town of Walden got repairs done two years ago.
Franklin County Commissioner Rocky Mullen presented an update on the Burr Canyon Guardrail at the first meeting of the year, sharing that work will be starting on that in the next couple of weeks and “hopefully be done by the end of February, weather permitting.” Work, it appears, has yet to begin.
On Tuesday, January 10, Franklin County Commissioners heard from Todd Eppich who expressed his concerns on the topic of roads.
Eppich said, “ On the arterials and a lot of the laterals, they’re taken really good care of, but when it comes down to the secondary contributor roads, basically the gravel roads, there’s very little done on those. I feel like that’s something that needs to be part of consideration as we continue to try and improve our county and to have it be the best that it can be.”
Eppich went on to report on the December 28 Chinook Winds stating, “I was the recipient of 75,000 gallons of water into my home and I would like the county to recognize that when you can’t tell the difference between a driveway and a road and my neighbor’s field, it’s all one transition - that there needs to be something done on that border in relation to the county’s road...” Eppich lives on N. Cooley Road, near the Ringold intersection. He shared that there is no borrow pits to help with this issue and distinguished boundary lines.
Eppich did speak with the supervisor of the county roads and commended the work crew that came out stating they were very responsive, putting in a borrow pit to help with the issue. However, when contacting the engineer - he snuck out and took a peek at the situation and stated nothing could be done. Eppich feels something needs to be and can be done.
“The road is not appropriately taken care of, it needs to be elevated or borrow pits put in there. So the appropriate management of water or whatever the scenerio might be, can be handled,” Eppich said.
Chairman of the County Commissioners, Curt Didier responded by saying he’d like to get with Eppich on the situation.
Also, on the topic of roads, Chairman Didier said in a December meeting that he heard a vote of confidence for the road crew and also some calls for complaints with snow removal.
The Franklin County Graphic (FCG) also spoke with farmers north of Connell on Krug Rd, where their gravel road is sparce of actual gravel.
Brian Cochrane contacted the FCG to bring to light the road conditions across the county, like Hoover Road just outside of Connell (pictured at right on front page), Hunt Road, Delaney, Largent, Nunamaker and others. Cochrane works fields/farms on every gravel road north of the Star School House.
Cochrane shared, “My concern is, obviously, N. Franklin doesn’t get looked at. . . It’s safety. I’m just looking for a little love in N. Franklin. We have a lot of businesses out here that contribute a lot to the county. They’re small but they’re impactful.”
Cochrane also shared the economic footprint of farming wheat and the significance of that one crop that is hauled on these roads in N. Franklin.
Cochrane has been in communication with Commissioner Rocky Mullen and with Senator Patty Murray’s office.
“I’m trying to keep the family farm alive and if we have to worry about infrastructure - that just adds to our input costs, time, and safety,” Cochrane said.
The Biden - Harris administration’s “Build Back Better” plan or “Infrastructure Investment Act” is said to be sending nearly $60 billion to states across the nation for infrastructure repair over the fiscal years of 2022 to 2026. However, as these rural roads in our county are not “major” infrastructure, the likelihood of funds coming our way is slim.
A number of politicians representing our state and region are in powerful positions - and could use that power to assist the people they represent.
As Cochrane said it, “This should be the year that we demand something, because if we push hard enough, we just might get it.”