Section of Talbot Road set for closure

Monday, January 16, 2023
(Sentinel Photo by Tom Lawrence) Plymouth County Sheriff Jeff Te Brink, speaking to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Jan. 10, said the dirt section of Talbot Road has been the scene of trouble for years.

LE MARS — A rural road that is being damaged by unexpectedly heavy traffic and is the site of some suspicious activity may soon be vacated.

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are considering closing a section of Talbot Road, a rural road in the far southwest corner of the county near the Woodbury County line. The road is one mile long, with half of it gravel and the other half dirt. The dirt portion would be closed to vehicle travel under this proposal.

Supervisor Craig Anderson said the request to vacate the approximately half-mile stretch of road came from the public. It is seen as a place where trouble has occurred fairly frequently.

“Over the years, we’ve had calls out there quite often,” Sheriff Jeff Te Brink said. He said deputies have made arrests for intoxicated drivers and drug possession on the road.

It’s also been the scene of some horrific events. Te Brink, who has been with the sheriff’s department for 32 years, the last two as sheriff, said two bodies have been dumped by the road. In both cases, the person was murdered elsewhere but the lonely stretch of dirt road is where their bodies were left.

It’s also become a junkyard and a place for people to dispose of unwanted objects and trash. The stretch of Talbot Road being considered for closure is out of sight of residences, Anderson said, which can lead to trouble.

At the Oct. 11 supervisors’ meeting, Ruth Rose, Debra Dykstra, Zac and Chris Chwirka asked the board to close it. Some area residents have been calling for its closure for more than two years, citing numerous concerns. A petition with around 20 signatures has been presented to the supervisors.

The area under consideration for closure is dirt and difficult to maintain, Anderson said. Vehicles often get stuck on it during inclement weather and ask people who live nearby to assist them, he said.

Te Brink said people use ATVs and other vehicles on the dirt roadway and make a mess when the surface is muddy. It makes it difficult to drive down it, he said, and sometimes deputies are unable to do so.

The adjacent land is owned by the state of Iowa. Stone State Park, an urban wildlife sanctuary, borders both sides of the road, and County Engineer Thomas Rohe said the park has plans for the area.

Normally, the county would remove the roadbed and level it, Rohe said, but the park plans to use it as a walking access for visitors. Both ends would be gated or blocked off to prevent vehicles from gaining access, he said.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held during the supervisors’ Tuesday, Feb. 7 meeting. It is set to begin at 10 a.m.

The potential road closing is the first to be considered under the recently approved ordinance establishing Area Service “C” Road Classification in Plymouth County so as to provide for a reduced level of maintenance effort and restricted access.

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