On April 9 of this year, serious road damage was reported by local residents along 11th Avenue in Clarkfield. Although this stretch of road is residential, and vehicles exceeding a certain tonnage are excluded from driving down it, several eye witnesses reported seeing a large truck and trailer drive down. The road was already in bad shape, however, the additional damage made the area undrivable. The damage was finally cleared (though not repaired) after a full day’s work by city workers. Following an investigation conducted by the Yellow Medicine Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that Aztech Ag was responsible for the damage.
City Administrator Amanda Luepke and Mike Jensen spoke with the company owner Austen Citrowske and relayed to him a quote for the damage in the amount of $6,000. Citrowske stated that the road was already damaged and that there were no signs prohibiting certain trucks from entering the road. He also said that he does not feel liable for the damages. This stretch of road is already slated to be reconstructed during the infrastructure project, but it isn’t clear whether that specific construction project will occur this year or next.
According to Troy Bruflat, the labor and material cost incurred by the city by making the road passable amounts to $1,530. The Council discussed the proximity of signage. They concluded that there was a sign, but that it was only posted on one entrance to the road. Without knowing which way the driver came, it is possible the driver didn’t see the sign. Nevertheless, Mayor Zachery Hendrickson pointed out that “common sense should dictate” not to drive a truck down a city street. Ultimately, the Council decided to send Aztech Ag a bill for the cost of the emergency repairs implemented by the city after the destruction of public property rather than bringing the issue to court.
Mayor Hendrickson added that the city should consider the placement of signs as part of the infrastructure project, pointing out that damage like this by truck drivers could prove a serious liability for the city. “If we are putting this much money into the infrastructure project,” he said, “then we need to protect ourselves.”