It would be nice, though, if Mother Nature would help the cause, said Jan Weismantel, highway superintendent.
So far, winter has been mild. Less than an inch of snow has fallen in Aberdeen, and warmer-than-normal temperatures have allowed water that could pose problems for county roads come spring to drain. But even if the dry conditions continue into spring, summer and fall, road crews will have plenty to do, Weismantel said.
"We just are so far behind that it's going to take more than one dry year," she said.
The weather will ultimately determine the highway department's 2012 priorities, she said. The hope is workers will have time to do more than just patch holes left by floodwaters. Last year, because there was so much patching needed, the county spent well more than $1 million to hire contractors to help with the work.
Basic maintenance, like chip sealing road surfaces, is needed, Weismantel said. And instead of doing five miles of chip sealing, as the department did last year, it needs to do 60 miles, she said.
While county crews won't do the work, significant improvements are scheduled for a nine-mile stretch of County Road 16 and south of U.S. Highway 12 near Bath. The project is scheduled to be bid in March, and the county has about $2 million in federal money to pay for the job, she said. The project has been in the works since 2003, she said.
Three bridges along are also scheduled to be replaced next year — one on County Road 21 near its intersection with state Highway 37, one south of Columbia and one on County Road 5 in northern Brown County, Weismantel said.
She said the highway department also hopes to replace culverts on County Road 7 near Claremont with a bridge.
The county has $700,000 in grant money from the state to help with two road improvement projects near Aberdeen businesses — Northern Beef Packers and Molded Fiber Glass. But some details about those jobs, including when they will be done, have not yet been determined. Ultimately, both will be bid.
County Road 14W will be upgraded from U.S. Highway 281 east for about a mile and a third. The state has approved grants of $200,000 and $250,000 for that work. Plans call for the western mile of the stretch, which now has an asphalt surface, to be whitetopped. That involves putting a layer of concrete over the asphalt. The eastern 1,800 feet or so leading to the entrance, now gravel, will be reconstructed with a concrete surface.
The project's estimated price is $1.39 million. As part of a tax increment finance agreement with Brown County, Northern Beef Packers will pay whatever's not covered by the grants. County officials expect traffic on the road to increase when the plant opens later this year.
The other state grant, for $250,000, is to improve County Road 19 near Molded Fiber Glass on the northeast edge of Aberdeen.