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Saline County loans money to Independence Twp., ahead of Mudfest

Staff Writer
Posted on 6/21/2017, 1:00 AM

SALINE COUNTY -- Saline County Board members agreed Tuesday to loan Independence Township the money to make improvements to Peak Road, only a few days before at least 2,500 people come to the area for the annual Southern Illinois Mudfest celebration.

The loan was approved 7-2, but not before some bickering.

Independence Township Road Commissioner Bill Bethel appealed for the loan on behalf of Williams Hill Pass OHV Park, 1935 Peak Road, which is hosting Mudfest June 30-July 2. The three-day festival has live entertainment and mud racing events.

Williams Hill Pass has promoted the event heavily and is worried Peak Road can't handle the extra traffic without reinforcement. Bethel wants the money to cover a half-mile stretch of road, which is on a hill, with "bam," a mixture of gravel and tar. He estimates about 200 tons of bam will be needed, which will cost about $9,100.

The county has a program backed by the Harco Road Fund that can help the county's road districts. Up to four miles of road per year may be improved with money from the Harco Road Fund, and a township must repay the cost at a rate of $1,500 per mile improved each year for 10 years.

The Saline County Highway Department will performs surface and shoulder work on the section of road to be improved.

Board member Steve Karns was one of two "no" votes.

Karns said he supported making the loan but argued the county wasn't following its own rules. According to the policy, the roadway to be improved "shall be contiguous to existing asphalt or chip-seal surface roads and shall be continuous in length."

Criteria for improvement also includes average daily traffic, number of residences, number of businesses, economic impact, adequacy of drainage, width, connection with other roads, public interest and availability of funds.

Karns said he was concerned that if the county did not follow its own rules, then other townships would expect the same treatment.

Harrisburg Township Road Commissioner Bob Holmes said only Harrisburg Township and East Eldorado Township have taken advantage of the loan program since its inception in 2007.

Bethel said Raleigh business owner Larry Grisham has loaned Independence Township equipment free to cut drainage ditches and make other improvements to the road in anticipation of the loan request being approved.

Member David Phelps also voted "no."