Letter from Michael Stuart
Truck Traffic Not To Blame
I respectfully disagree with Chip Northrup’s proposition to ban truck traffic on State Route 80 as a means to address the chronic roadway failures. While I understand the concern for the safety and stability of the road, such a ban could have adverse effects on our local economy, given that State Route 80 serves as a crucial transportation link for commerce and supplies in and out of our community.
Based on the evidence from past embankment failures since the great flood of 2006, it is clear that these incidents have coincided with high-water events. The recent collapse further supports this observation. The root cause of these failures appears to be persistent elevated lake levels, which have been eroding the shoreline due to the lack of control at the Mill Street Dam.
It is evident that the design of the existing dam has led to the accumulation of silt north of the dam and into the lake, thereby restricting the depth of the water to just a few feet. Consequently, when rainfall occurs, there is more water entering the lake than can be adequately released. This imbalance exacerbates the issue and contributes to the embankment failures along State Route 80.
To address the core problem effectively, I propose a logical solution: modifying the dam to allow water and sediment to be released from its base, rather than the current top-over system. By making this change, a more significant volume of water and sediment can be released during and prior to high-water events and the river will eventually be restored to an appropriate depth.
Once the source of the road collapse problem is effectively addressed through dam modification, we can proceed with engineered stabilization projects and necessary repairs to ensure a safe roadway and a clean lake environment. Implementing a ban on necessary vehicle traffic and making substantial fill and patch repairs will not resolve the underlying issue, and it could lead to further degradation of our economy, existing infrastructure, ongoing shoreline erosion, and declining lake quality.
In conclusion, let us focus on a solution that targets the root cause of the problem and promotes long-term benefits for our community. By altering the dam to allow for controlled water and sediment release, we can preserve the vital transportation link of State Route 80, while also ensuring the safety of our residents and the preservation of our environment. Simply banning weight from the road surface without addressing the problem at its base seems illogical.