Some of the residents living along Wildfowl Lane that runs north from Stevensville to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge are relieved to hear that the road pavement is not going to be decommissioned. The asphalt on the road is in extremely bad repair and a couple of months ago, the County Commissioners considered tearing up the pavement completely and taking it back to a gravel road.
Commissioner Jeff Burrows explained that the county has analyzed its road inventory and set up a feasible schedule for repair and reconstruction. The problem is that Wildfowl Lane is not on the current seven-year schedule, but it is in a state of terrible disrepair with deep potholes and crumbled asphalt making it a hazard for drivers.
Burrows said that the Road Department was looking at the possibility of a federal grant to re-pave the road and had suggested milling up the old road surface and returning it to gravel until the grant was obtained.
“We didn’t make any decisions,” said Burrows. “We just discussed the alternatives.” He said given the county’s road budget, the county was considering removing roads from its maintenance schedule and returning them to gravel as a money-saving measure.
Property owners along the lane became concerned when the county spread gravel over the entire asphalt surface of the road. According to local resident Casey Johnson, the gravel produced small dust storms when vehicles passed, becoming a suffocating cloud for bicyclists and pedestrians who use the road a lot to access the refuge.
Burrows said the county was not committed to the deconstruction of the road, but it puts the county in a bad spot, he said. The asphalt road as it stands is crumbling and dangerous. A gravel road would be much safer.
“We may have to just go in and do the necessary patching to get us through to grant time,” said Burrows. “We are looking at our options. Nothing has been decided yet.”