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Douglas County may charge rent for road closure equipment

The rental fees are designed to maintain and repair damaged traffic control devices used for private projects, county officials say.

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Douglas County could start charging for traffic control devices when a private entity needs a county highway closed.

The transportation and infrastructure committee approved daily rental rates for barricades, barrels, traffic cones, signs, traffic control lights and sandbags used by the highway department to accommodate road closures. The proposal will now go before the Douglas County Board for approval at its Sept. 16 meeting.

“Historically, we’ve never rented anything out,” said highway commissioner Jason Jackman. “And we don’t want to lend our stuff out if we don’t have to because if there’s an emergency, we want to have enough traffic control devices to close roads.”

However, a couple of times a year, Jackman said his department is called on by the railroads to close a road while crews work on privately owned infrastructure.

“If the railroad were to call a private contractor to close the roads, it would be very costly,” Jackman said. “We don’t have an issue doing it because it’s our road.”

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When the highway department sets up traffic control devices, Jackman said it ensures standards established by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices are met and reduces the county’s liability.

The rental charge was created to cover maintenance costs for normal wear and tear and to repair damaged devices so taxpayers don’t end up covering those costs, he said. If the railroad were to rent the necessary safety equipment for a three-day closure, Jackman estimated the cost to be about $400.

“It’s not a big issue for them, and it’s going to help us maintain what they use,” Jackman said.

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Related Topics: TRAFFIC AND CONSTRUCTION
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.