In 1983, an agreement was reached between the City of Groton and the Brown County Commissioners regarding the maintenance of the old U.S. Highway 12 that enters Groton from the east. A group of Groton officials reminded the commissioners of this agreement during the Brown County Commissioners meeting on Monday. The agreement stated that the City of Groton would take over the maintenance of the highway within the city limits, from Sixth Street to Highway 37. This became Railroad Avenue. The County would maintain the half mile stretch remaining, from the city limits to the new Highway 12.
Brown County Highway Superintendent Jan Weismantel recently reported to the commissioners that this stretch of highway no longer served any Brown County residents and would no longer be maintained by the county. This prompted members of the Groton City Council, the Groton Fire District and the Olive Grove Golf Course to appear at the meeting.
Groton City Mayor Roy Olson spoke to the commissioners about the important role the road plays to the community.
“It’s a short half mile, but it is a busy stretch,” Olson said. “We are here to make an appeal that you keep this asphalt intact. This road was well constructed with state and federal highway funds and was part of the original Yellowstone trail.”
County Road 12E is important to emergency responders and the school district. This is a valuable stretch of road for them as it is the easiest way to get to the highway when heading out of town to the east.
“If the fire department and emergency responders can’t use the road to get to U.S. Highway 12, it adds three miles to their response calls, which means it takes longer to get to fires or other emergencies,” said Bob Osterman, President of the Groton Fire Board.
“The Groton School District has used this route for many years,” Mayor Olson said. “Only one route is using it this year, in part because of the potholes on this road.”
The road has deteriorated over the past couple of years, in part due to the wet weather and flooding. The road boarders Mud Creek, and has had standing water to both sides for years.
“It would be a shame for it to revert to gravel,” Olson added.
Weismantel said that road crews can make some improvements to the road in spring.
“It may just be gravel patched to make it drivable for right now,” she said, “But, it’s not going to get a new asphalt mat. The department doesn’t have enough money for that”.
The City of Groton is going to be doing some street work and may have excess dirt. Representatives said that they may be able to use that excess material to build up the shoulders and strengthen the road.
In addition, the State DOT plans to rebuild Highway 37 from Highway 12 to the south side of Groton in 2016 and this stretch in question has been mentioned as a possible detour that year. Weismantel said she would visit with the state DOT and see if there is an option to receive some funding to help fix the stretch of road before it may be used as a detour.