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Letter to the Editor: Pass frac sand moratorium

Posted: Wed, Jun 5, 2013 1:47 PM

Lynne Zotalis of Decorah sends this Letter to the Editor:

"Dear Planning and Zoning Commissioners,

Let's Ensure Our Quality of Life

After extensive reading about the frac-sand issue, I still have so many concerns and questions. Our neighbors to the north in Houston County published a report at delineating specifically road study on the effects of heavy loads presented by Dr. W. James Wilde, P.E., Professor, MN. State Univ., Director, Center for Transportation Research and Implementation, Mankato, MN. With numerous examples of data the page I quote cites just one of the cost factors yet to be determined.

    11,740 trucks per year at 23 tons/truck
    A typical roadway in Houston County may be designed for 50,000 trucks over its entire lifetime
    The additional trucks can "consume" the designed life of the pavement in less than 5 years                                                                

In another report by Chippewa County to study current traffic needs versus sand hauling traffic a road upgrade study determined that one 7.45 mile section of pavement estimated a cost of $2,888,089. for the required structural asphalt overlay.

Road and bridge maintenance in Winneshiek County is underfunded to the degree that the road use fund is insolvent, i.e., the county has already used up all of the road repair funds at its disposal for the current year. There is no money available for any such paving upgrades. We are not permitted, as a county, to levy a road use tax. This means there is no way to collect money to repair our roads from an industrial silica sand mining operation that would tear them up. Will we as taxpayers be asked to bear the burden of such massive costs?

Patricia Popple, a concerned citizen from Chippewa Falls, WI., said noise, traffic, sand and waste spills into waterways, crumbling roads and illness blamed on fugitive dust have become hot issues in her state. We need assurances in all of these areas. I believe a 24 month moratorium should be imposed until such issues can be studied to the extent that we have accurate data to make a truly informed decision about frac-sand mining in this county.

The public is urged to attend the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing at the Decorah Courthouse, third floor, Main and Winnebago Streets this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

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