By Randy Pierce
Privatizing rural roads by turning them over to the owners of adjacent farm properties is a concept suggested by Madison County Board member Bill Stoutenborough of Alton as a way to save government money spent on maintaining them.
Toward the end of the board’s most recent meeting, Stoutenborough presented this idea after commenting about the newly-adopted 20-year transportation plan for the county, saying it was “very complete and very interesting.”
Prefacing his proposal, Stoutenborough said he grew up on a farm when the demographics were much different than they are now. The houses, barns, tool sheds, corn cribs and other structures sitting on the land do not seem to exist currently to the extent that they were prevalent back in the 20th century, he noted.
There is now one family for about every four “sections” of farmland, he continued, compared to the multiple groups that were scattered on similar tracts many decades ago. With those who own the farm land now in possession of so much more of it than in the past, Stoutenborough believes this condition would be more conducive to having them be responsible for the upkeep of the roads serving their properties instead of the county.
County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler responded that since this matter did not appear on that evening’s agenda, it could not be discussed but suggested that Stoutenborough talk to the county engineer about it.