This rural road to be paved by best intentions

This rural road to be paved by best intentions

Cynthia Taggart

TIM BRUYA’S FOUR KIDS had scrambled off the road around Hayden Lake plenty of times when cars careened around the curves by their house.

The narrow dirt road didn’t concern Tim much when he bought the choice lake property in 1988. He assumed someone eventually would pave it.

Years passed. Pavement appeared on other small stretches of the road, but the five miles that led to and passed by Tim’s property stayed dirt and scary. His kids kept scrambling, and speeding cars routinely landed upside down in ditches.

Tim asked around when the hilly stretch by his house was the only unpaved section left on Hayden Lake Road East. Lakes Highway District told him landowners and road users helped pave the rest of the road.

So Tim got busy.

“I’m so impressed,” says George Berg, a neighbor on the Hayden Lake road. George left Hayden Lake for the winter and returned this spring to see bulldozers and backhoes hard at work widening a section of road that has always unnerved him.

“It’s such a beautiful drive.

I’ll be able to take guests around the lake.”

What Tim accomplished is no small feat. Landowners contributed more than $91,000 plus plenty of land to pave and widen 4-1/2 miles of the road by about eight feet.

When the $1.5 million project is finished next year, pavement will cover the entire road around Hayden Lake, and a new bridge and culvert will keep fishing healthy. Fire engines instead of fireboats will be able to respond to emergencies. Landowners no longer will have to pay to oil their sections in the summer if they want to keep dust down.

“It was a fun project,” Tim says. “By and large, everyone wanted it, and even people who opposed it expressed their opinion and worked with us.”

Tim learned in 1999 that the road’s improvement depended on him and his 152 neighbors. Few neighbors were visible. Tall cedars and steep hillsides hide most homes from the road. Tim counted docks.

The highway district gave him a todo list – raise $91,900 and get the 20 landowners across the road from the lake to give up enough property so the highway district could widen the road.

Tim met with each of the 20 families. He explained the project, its need for some of their land, then let them think about it. Joe Wuest, the district’s road supervisor, answered their questions, but he couldn’t tell them how much land he needed until the project was under way. Highway workers had to angle the hillsides depending on the slope of the road.

“We had to get over people’s skepticism about giving their land away, about agencies,” Tim says. “It was a matter of gaining trust that this project would benefit them and a lot of people.”

Only a few landowners resisted. They worried the highway district might take more land than it needed, that entrances to their property would change. Carefully worded deeds satisfied them. It took two years, but all 20 landowners gave up from 30 feet to 100 feet of their land and everything on it.

The highway district hired someone to log the land and cart off the timber. Any money raised from the timber went toward the $91,900 the homeowners needed to contribute, says Joe, the road supervisor.

Raising nearly $92,000 concerned Tim, so he and two highway district commissioners polled landowners along that stretch of road before launching the project. They asked how many would contribute $2,000 to $3,000 to fix the road. Forty said they would.

Tim’s group mailed letters to every landowner along the five miles and asked them to consider contributing $2,000 each to the project. Tim asked all neighbors for the same amount regardless of how much land they owned because they all use the road.

Contributions from $400 to $4,000 poured in. Two landowners with two lots each sent $4,000 each. Tim asked neighbors to talk to neighbors about contributing. Tim Corbey, who owns five acres at Windy Bay, had no problem discussing the project’s worth with his neighbors.

“I had to oil the road every year a couple of times,” he says. Oiling for dust control cost him $300 to $600 a year. “Every year we hear the accidents, see people in the ditch by our house. It’s like a freeway in the summer.”

By last week, 73 landowners had chipped in more than $92,000. That money helped move 80,000 cubic yards of rocks and dirt and widen the winding road from 16 feet to 24 feet.

Construction stopped for the summer last week. The wider road will stay dirt, albeit oiled for dust control, until fall when the highway district will cover it with gravel. Next spring, the pavement will go down, thanks to Tim’s persistence and his neighbors’ cooperation.

“It was all very positive,” says Tim, who met neighbors he never knew he had. “Hopefully now it’ll be safe and the fire district can reach us.”

Copyright 2002 Cowles Publishing Company

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