Minor damage to a Codington County road has one citizen concerned about what will happen when construction on wind towers begins in full.
Amber Christenson, a rural resident who works in Watertown, emailed three photos showing the damage to the Public Opinion and four county commissioners. The asphalt appears to have been torn by a tracked truck that Christenson said is parked in a field along a road between Waverly and South Shore.
Christenson said the truck had the name of ConeTec on its side. ConeTec has multiple locations in North America and its website says it does site investigation. The Public Opinion called two ConeTec locations but was unable to learn why the truck was in Codington County.
Christenson is certain she knows why. She believes it’s here as a first step toward construction of wind energy towers.
“It begins in our area ... road damage,” Christenson wrote in her email. “Are we holding anyone accountable? Is someone from this company paying the bill for repair for endangering travelers on our county roads?”
Earlier this month the S.D. Public Utilities Commission cleared the last barrier for Dakota Range, a wind energy project sponsored by Apex Energy. Christenson doesn’t believe the damage occurred in the Dakota Range Wind Project area.
The other pending wind energy project is Crowned Ridge, which has received approval from Codington and Grant Counties but is awaiting a thumbs-up from the PUC.
Rick Hartley, Codington County Highway Superintendent, spoke with county commissioners Tuesday about a road haul agreement proposal he had gotten Apex. He received approval from the commission to seek advice from Banner Engineering about the proposal.
Hartley wondered if the vehicle in Christenson’s photos was first unloaded on road and then traveled into a field, causing the damage to the edge of the pavement. He said the roads are open to anyone as long as the vehicles meet requirements or have county permission.
“If it’s a regular vehicle I can’t really limit them,” he said. “Tracked vehicles, absolutely not. Those roads are meant for the public travel, not stuff like that. We won’t allow them to run up and down our gravel roads.”
Hartley was planning to speak with Banner Engineering either yesterday or today about Apex’s proposal.