April 23, 2014

County, Coyote Creek come to new road agreement

A public hearing ended with a road agreement when the Mercer County Commission heard comments on proposed improvements to a county road south of Beulah.
Coyote Creek Mining Company President Jim Melchior was on hand to discuss the current construction and maintenance agreement for County Road 25. The road is a gravel route south of Beulah that would lead from Highway 49 to the company’s mining location. Landowners from that area were on hand to offer their perspectives on the idea. The largest concerned seemed to revolve around exactly when the road would be paved.
Melchior opened the discussion by stating his company had been working with State’s Attorney Jessica Binder on language concerning maintenance.
Binder said the agreement was updated to reflect language that was already in place with other road agreements, such as the one with Basin Transload. That agreement’s maintenance portion called for such items as dust control and snow removal.
Commissioner Frank Bitterman stated that dust control was a major concern for him, asking when paving would be an option. Melchior responded that his company was working with County Engineer Steve Mamer in looking for state funding that could help with those types of situations. He added that paving costs had doubled in the past two years due to increased demand from counties in the western part of the state that were upgrading their roads.
Binder noted that the agreement currently allowed for paving to happen at a later date.
“It would be designed for gravel at this time with the hopes of future hard surfacing,” she said. “Steve [Mamer] had mentioned that it would probably be two years worth of driving on that road before we’d start on hard surfacing.”
That timeframe, Binder said, would allow Coyote Creek Mining Company to get its operations underway and provide time for the county to revisit the topic of paving.
Commissioner Bill Tveit said his concern was that there didn’t appear to be any teeth in the contract that would make the company pave the road within the two-year timeframe. Melchior stated that the company planned on – and wanted to – pave the road, but at the time it was cost prohibitive – up to $1 million per mile on the approximately five-mile stretch of road.
Landowner Leland Erickson said he’d been farming near mining operations his entire life and, while there hadn’t been any major problems with those operations, he had concerns over what increased traffic would do to that road if it wasn’t paved.


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