Otter Tail County residents who have attended public meetings in previous months have expressed their desire for their roadways to be maintained at the highest level.

Doing so requires lots of money, as noted in the Otter Tail County 2021 highway construction budget. Factoring in resurfacing, reconstruction and adding in bridge replacements results in millions of dollars.

Resurfacing projects in 2021 will cost an estimated $9.4 million. Included is work along Highway 67 near New York Mills, Highway 8 near Perham and Highway 5 near Clitherall.

The price tag for reconstruction projects in 2021 is an estimated $10.9 million.

Included is work along Highway 34 west of Perham, Highway 35 near Underwood, and Highway 46 near Parkers Prairie.

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Three bridge projects for this coming year will total $2.2 million. Adding in county roadway seal coating will cost an estimated $1.1 million.

Otter Tail County is larger in size than the state of Rhode Island and paved roads total 1,062 miles. This keeps the county highway department very busy.

“Yes, the backbone of the highway system in Otter Tail County requires lots of financial investment,” says County Engineer Chuck Grotte.

Grotte says that 2021 roadway funding will come from county taxpayers through next year’s levy as well as $20 license tab fees and a half cent sales tax in Otter Tail County. Additional road money comes from the state and federal government which has been limited in recent years.

More about county highway department

An engineering section of the Otter Tail County Highway Department, headed by Grotte, has a staff of nine people.

They are responsible for inspections, engineering design and construction of highways and bridge projects. This section also provides technical support to other county departments.

The maintenance section of the county highway department, also headed by Grotte, includes 33 individuals who provide routine maintenance services to the highways and bridges throughout Otter Tail County.

These maintenance operations are divided into five maintenance areas which contain a total of 10 garages in various sections of the county. Snow plowing during the winter months is part of their job descriptions.