NuGen Energy talks road issues

Dawn Rye | Writer
drye@ncppub.com
During last week’s commissioner’s meeting, the board and NuGen Energy couldn’t find a common fix when it came to a solution to repairing 447th Ave in Marion.
Commissioner Mark Kaufman said NuGen is a plant that employs local Turner County residents and is a big asset to corn producers.
NuGen Energy Grain Marketing contact Isaac Buresch explained NuGen consumes about 50 million bushels annually, which is twice the amount of production in Turner County. Between POET in Chancellor, Turner County and NuGen there is a consumption of 90 million bushels. Sixty-five million bushels are being imported into the county from McCook, Minnehaha, Lincoln and Hutchinson County. He said NuGen sees approximately 51,375 loaded combinations per year between corn, distiller’s grains, corn oil and ethanol. Of those loads, he estimated 27,300 trucks are driving on 447th Ave.
Buresch explained there are two issues with 447th; one is the load limit restriction that is causing drivers to haul the long route. The second issue is the 90-degree curves at the county line that present a serious hazard to drivers because of the lack of adequate shoulders.
“I believe it was 2015 we went through the same thing. Don’t get me wrong; I understand that road is bad. It was not all that long ago before it was pitchforks and torches from the people in Marion and they didn’t want the truck traffic,” said Buresch.
Kaufman said before NuGen’s plant was built Marion residents agreed Broadway Street (main road) would be designated as the haul road.
Buresch explained at that time it was easier for Central Farmers Co-op because they were a major callous for getting the plant built, giving them better access across the road.
“What kind of shape is that road in now?” asked Commissioner Mick Miller.
Highway Superintendent Kent Austin said pretty rough. The first four miles going north are average and after that, it gets pretty ugly, he noted.
“Maybe planning and zoning should have done a better job of planning and zoning,” noted Kaufman.
Chairman Lyle VanHove said years ago the county tried to buy ground in order to widen the road but landowners wouldn’t allow it. He explained a similar issue regarding the two miles on the township road to have trucks avoid Marion. Landowners threatened the county they would go to court because the county was trying to buy land to fix road issues.
“How much does it cost to grind the road per mile?” asked Kaufman.
Austin said about $20,000.00. If the county paved it, it would cost $150,000.00 per mile. He noted his concern is if the county makes an exception for NuGen it will open up a can of worms for the county and anybody hauling corn. Load limit restrictions are designed to protect the roads and allow the frost to come out of the ground. The county roads are not built for that amount of truck traffic he said.

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