By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The Otter Tail County Highway Department, headed by Rick West, is responsible for 1,062 miles of highway. Maintaining those roads during the winter months is costly.

West told county commissioners that the average seasonal cost from 2009 to 2016 was $1.08 million.

The maintenance section of the County Highway Department includes 30 individuals and provides routine maintenance services to the highways and bridges in Otter Tail County.

These maintenance operations are divided into three maintenance areas which include 10 garages.

During the winter months, removal of snow and ice from county highways is the most important job confronting county highway department maintenance personnel.

“The safety of the traveling public on county highways is the primary concern of county maintenance crews during the winter months,” said county Highway Maintenance Supervisor Rick Hoium.

In recent months, public hearings have been held to gain input from Otter Tail County residents about long-range roadway maintenance, in all seasons of the year. Meetings have been held in Pelican Rapids, Perham, Henning and Fergus Falls.

The real challenge to county residents, said West, is helping county government obtain the needed revenues to support what’s needed with annual transportation budgets.

“Through these county-wide meetings, we’re pointing out the objective of our transportation plans,” said West. “We want county residents to share their ideas. We respect community values and public input.”