NETTLE CREEK – Heavy loads and thawing roads should not mix, according to Grundy County engineers, so rural residents can say goodbye to their garbage collectors until further notice.
Highland, Erienna, Nettle Creek and Wauponsee townships are halting their trash pickup to prevent garbage trucks from creating pot holes. Residents have been asked to haul their garbage to designated drop-off sites until the roads are stable enough to accommodate the heavy loads.
The initiative will only effect those residents living on weight-restricted roads. Such as in Wauponsee Township there are only about 12 homes that will have to bring their garbage to another location. Those homes are off of Lynn, Vanderpool and Lund roads.
County engineers and township road commissioners have deemed the program a necessary inconvenience to prevent expensive pavement repairs later this spring.
“The past two years, we didn’t do it because our road conditions were a lot different than this year’s conditions,” said Ryan Cryder, road commissioner for Nettle Creek Township. “But with the very deep frost under our roads, we thought we should do it.”
As the ground warms and the frost thaws, county roads are made vulnerable by “soft spots,” caused by the changing, unstable ground, Grundy County Civil Engineer Brian Tjernlund said.
“Frost develops under the roads,” he said. “It happens under all roads, but the ones most at risk are the oil, chip and gravel roads, which is what many of the rural township roads are.”
Large garbage trucks can “rip up the roads very quickly,” when the soft spots form, Grundy County Engineer Craig Cassem said.
The problem is intensified in rural areas, such as Nettle Creek, where residents are free to choose their own garbage collection company. Because of this, multiple garbage trucks – one from each pickup provider – can travel down the same road in the span of a just few hours.
“You may have three or four garbage trucks run down the same road just to pick up for three or four different homes,” Cryder said.
Typically, it takes one month for the frost to melt and roads to strengthen, but this year, the thaw could take longer since this winter’s frost was so deep, Tjernlund said.
This leaves residents without garbage pickup for an extended amount of time which will most likely anger some rural homeowners, Cryder said.
When this program was used in years past, Cryder said he heard complaints from several residents, especially those who were unable to drive to the township hall and unload their garbage.
“It is something that, of course, hasn’t gone over really well,” he said.
In Nettle Creek, Cryder said people have left their garbage outside the dumpster or have not used garbage bags, creating a mess for him to clean.
Cryder said he understands the service stoppage can be a major inconvenience for residents, but felt it could not be avoided this year with the harsh winter.
The highway department directed residents with any questions or concerns to contact their waste hauler, their township road commissioner or the county highway department.
“This can be a real pain,” Cassem said. “But it’s something we need to do to prevent damages and expensive repairs.”
Highland – Old Kinsman Grade School located on Kinsman Road; the Highland Township Garage located at the intersection of Kinsman and Cahill roads
Erienna – 7110 Old Stage Road, located east of Mann’s Floral Shop
Nettle Creek – Nettle Township Building located on Nettle Creek Road
Wauponsee – Wauponsee Township Garage located at IL 47 and Southmor Road