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Trempealeau County’s deteriorating roads gain national attention

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Tremp Bad Roads

Trempealeau County (WQOW) - A western Wisconsin county is receiving national attention, but not in the way they want.

The New York Times recently spotlighted Trempealeau County for its deteriorating rural roads.

The landscape of Trempealeau County is littered with roads that look like crumbling asphalt held together by tar, and many are in dire need of replacing.

Highway officials agree, but said there is only so much that can be done.

Highway commissioner Al Rinka said the Trempealeau County Highway Department typically repairs four to six miles of road a year.

That's four to six miles of Trempealeau County's 293 miles of road.

"It's trying to pick your worst roads first, but a lot of them are so bad it's, 'Where do you start?' You're almost throwing good money at the bad to go and patch a road where you might be better off just to leave it alone until you can get enough money to fix it right the first time," said Rinka.

The normal life span of an asphalt road is 30 years.

"There are roads, many roads in Trempealeau County, that are even older than 74 years old since they've been reconstructed," said Rinka.

Osseo farmer Shane Goplin said the rough roads have taken a toll on his equipment.

"We've had tires that have been injured or springs on our trailers or trucks that have broken, so yes, rough roads pose a problem," said Goplin.

Quality roads do come at a price. Prior to November, the highway department had a budget of $1.5 million. This year it's $6.5 million.

"Our county board did increase our budget, which is going to allow us to almost quadruple our typical mileage of road reconstruction this year," said Rinka.

The highway commissioner told News 18 a real investment in infrastructure must happen before any tangible change can take place, adding that if people want better roads, the money needs to come from somewhere.

If you're wondering about the cost, Rinka said reconstructing a mile of road costs $300,000. Short-term patching like chip sealing costs $17,000 a mile.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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