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Frequently Asked Questions

Snow Removal

Q.

What are the hours of operation for winter snow removal?

A.

As long as roadways are passable, the Secondary Roads crew will work regular hours (Mon - Fri, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and not work on the weekends. Following a winter storm, we will work overtime hours during the week and weekend from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until access has been restored to homes and livestock. Our Snow Ordinance provides additional details on our snow removal procedures and policies.

Q.

I’ve seen plow trucks on the road that sometimes aren’t spreading salt. Why don’t they since they are there anyway?

A.

Salt does not melt ice, but it does lower the freezing temperature of water. This works down to a temperature of approximately 20 degrees. At a critical temperature of about 20 degrees, applying salt to roads packed with snow or ice may create worse problems by causing the snow or ice to “glaze” or form a slick shiny surface. Also, during windy storms, snow will often blow off a bare road, whereas salt will sometimes cause the snow to begin to stick . We monitor the forecast and current temperatures to determine the most efficient use of our salt. 

Q.

Is there anything I can do to help with snow and ice operations?

A.

Yes.

  • Hay bales or other material that is stored along the north or west right-of-way will cause drifting across the roadway. If the bales were set back 300 feet, they would act as a snow fence and actually help protect the road.
  • During severe storms, it is helpful if folks are patient and wait for the snow plow so that abandoned vehicles do not become a big problem. Our operators try to go around those vehicles, but if that is not possible, the vehicle will be moved at the owner's expense to allow our equipment to get through. The county will not be liable for damage unless negligence can be established.
Q.

The plow knocked down my mailbox. Will the county replace it?

A.

During wet snows, the plowing operations will often cast snow across the shoulder, which can break the weaker mailbox supports. The county does not replace or repair mailboxes destroyed or damaged during snow removal operations.

Q.

Why do they keep plowing my driveway shut?

A.

Unfortunately, this is due to the continuous operation of the plow. It is necessary for the operator to push snow without stopping in order to efficiently remove the snow and complete the route in a timely manner. If we pause to clear each driveway, both momentum and time are lost. Generally the snow is pushed to the south and east so that the removed snow windrow will not act as a snow fence and cause drifting across the roadway with the prevailing northerly and westerly winds.

Q.

Why does it take so long to clear snow on gravel roads?

A.

Restoring access on gravel roads is a slow process since the motor graders are not built for speed and a typical route covers from 60-80 miles of road (or 120-160 lane miles) that need to be cleared. If windy conditions result in having to use the V-plows to get through snow drifts, even slower progress will be made. Sometimes after a severe storm it is not possible to reach all homes until the second or third day. Continued windy conditions can result in a road blowing shut shortly after it is opened. Home owners are encouraged to plan accordingly for the winter season.

Q.

How do we contact your department?

A.

Our office phone number is 641-684-5425 with regular office hours of 7:00 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you can reach us by email at engineer@wapellocounty.org.

As long as roadways are passable, the Secondary Road crew will work regular hours and not work on the weekends. Following a snow storm, we will work overtime hours during the week and the weekend until access has been restored to homes and livestock. Wapello County has an adopted a Snow Ordinance. The Ordinance limits the County's liability and also outlines services that residents can expect during the winter season.

Q.

Who do I contact in case of an emergency?

A.

Emergencies (where loss of life is probable, where a serious injury has occurred, or where extensive loss of property is imminent) should be called to the Emergency Management Coordinator 641-814-8333 or 911 dispatcher. The County may respond to an "emergency" either during or after a snowstorm. Our Snow Ordinance has more details on emergencies.

Driveways & Field Entrances

Q.

Do I need a permit to widen my driveway?

A.

Any work done (including driveway widening) in the right-of-way requires a permit from the County Engineer. You can download a permit or visit our office to fill one out. We will review the site and authorize the work before it has begun.

Q.

How do I add a driveway to my property?

A.

You need to fill out a driveway permit and submit it to our office. We will review the proposed location for site distance and safety. We will provide the required pipe diameter if one is required. After the permit has been reviewed, you may construct the entrance.

Q.

Who repairs driveway culvert pipe?

A.

All driveways and maintenance of such are the sole responsibility of the property owner. Please see Driveway and Entrance Policy for more details.

Dust Control

Q.

How do I get dust control by my property?

A.

Contact an approved dust control supplier for Wapello County. They will provide you with our dust control policy, permit application, and green flags to mark the location to be sprayed. You do not need to contact Wapello County.

Q.

How much is the permit for dust control?

A.

There is no cost for the actual Wapello County Dust Control Permit. All costs for dust control are determined by each individual approved supplier.

Q.

Where do I get the green flags to mark my dust control?

A.

The green flags are supplied by your dust control provider. You are responsible for keeping the green flags visible so the road grader does not grade your dust control.

Q.

Can I use waste oil as dust control?

A.

No. Waste oil is a pollutant and not permitted by the Iowa DNR or Wapello County. 

Gravel Roads

Q.

When will the county pave my gravel road?

A.

It costs between $ 600,000 and $ 800,000 per mile to properly grade and pave a new road, depending upon the lay of the land and the number of drainage structures. Paving is an expensive alternative when a well travelled gravel road can be maintained for $ 2,000 per year. The criteria set by the Iowa DOT for paving new roads include the traffic count, nearest parallel paved route, the functional classification, and the percentage of truck traffic. Due to the high cost of paving roads and the relatively low amount of money available for new construction it is very difficult to pave new roads. You can see all of our future construction plans on the construction page.

Dirt Roads

Q.

Can I gate off a dirt road?

A.

You cannot gate off a dirt road unless it has been downgraded to a Class 'C' (local access only) road. Our policy on downgrading a road describes this process.

Q.

How do I get rock put on a dirt road?

A.

Wapello County has an established policy to follow for upgrading dirt roads to gravel roads. In short, the following is required:

  1. Have a petition signed by all adjacent landowners
  2. Donate necessary right-of-way to 50' on each side of the road along the entire length of road upgraded
  3. Pay for all costs to regrade and bring the road up to gravel road standards
  4. Pay for 1000 ton/mile of rock to be placed the first time on the road

After these requirements have been met, Wapello County will take over maintenance of the gravel road.

Map · Wapello County Secondary Roads

536 Mill St · Ottumwa, 52501