Letter to the Editor: Is this really a good idea?

To the Editor:

We understand that Alliant Energy (a public utility granted a monopoly, with the trust they will act in the public interest) has plans that will likely destroy many of the roads in eastern Allamakee County. This area actually has very few roadways to support its population.

Alliant has three plans that will likely decimate the major roadways in this area.

1. Alliant plans to send 46 thousand semi-trucks up and down seven miles of two-lane scenic roadway.
2. Another project, in conjunction with this first project, will be decided by the County, ex parte, without public comment. We don’t know the details of that project, but a property has been mentioned on the next roadway north of the first project. It appears that at least 4.6 miles of that roadway will likely be destroyed.
3. Then the town of Lansing will get, we suspect, more than 23 thousand loads of coal passing through (we’ve been told it is a very-big pile). This is something that has been planned for more than a year, with the details not yet released to the public. Those actions will likely cause the destruction of at least 3.8 miles of roadway in town, making interstate travel and commerce very difficult, if not impossible, at that important crossing.

Then the 80,000 lb. coal-laden semi-trucks will travel over a bridge which has a 39.9% sufficiency rating and onto a dike that’s already collapsed in the recent past, claiming the life of a local resident.

I’ve got to ask, is this really a good idea?

In town, Alliant will be sending huge semi-trucks non-stop past old buildings that could sustain damage from non-stop rumbling.

As I understand, Alliant is doing this because they don’t want to spend a little extra money to bring dirt in and coal out on barges, the way they’ve brought coal to the area for 75 years. For the sake of saving a little money, Alliant is pushing these externalities onto the community. Rather than paying a higher bill themselves, you will pay.

How will you pay? Some people may lose their lives due to the heavily increased traffic and impact to the roads. Your waterways will likely be soiled. Wildlife may be poisoned (this project also has externalities of grave concern for wildlife). Your infrastructure will likely be destroyed.

Alliant is failing in its obligation to protect the community it is supposed to serve. Since Alliant has taken this approach, we must count on local elected officials to stand up for the people’s rights. What is the obligation of government?

From the preamble to our U.S. Constitution: to… establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…

The small family farmer has been under attack for many years. Our county and state governments are supposed to protect small and medium-scale farmers.

What is the responsibility of government? It’s to provide things for the citizens that they can’t provide for themselves. Infrastructure is one of the top items on that list.

Government can’t provide for the common defense if there is no infrastructure to be able to come to the aid of residents. Infrastructure is essential for citizens to seek help when they need it. It’s essential for commerce. Small and medium-size farmers in this area are involved in commerce, and have been for more than 100 years. Allowing the wanton destruction of essential roadways is going to interfere with that. This is an attack on infrastructure.  This is an attack on the small family farm. This is an attack on interstate commerce. We need Allamakee County to come to the aid of small and medium-sized farmers.

My husband remembers the Lafayette Ridge Drive before it was paved, full of potholes. It was great when the County was finally able to pave it. It took numerous years to build up and pave the Lafayette Ridge Drive.  Now that road has received a State of Iowa Scenic Byway designation. The Great River Road that these trucks will also be traveling has received a National Scenic Byway designation and has been voted one of the most beautiful byways in the country.

Alliant’s contractor, Ames Construction, has plans that could likely turn Lafayette Ridge Drive back into a gravel road in short order. When I look at Ames’ website, it’s obvious that they construct huge mining pits to leach toxic waste, they create strong bridges and strong level roads that could handle a lot of heavy mining equipment. They could level out Allamakee County’s Roller Coaster Road in short order and build a good strong roadway.

However, I think Allamakee County is great, just as it is. It doesn’t need level roadways strong enough to accommodate mining equipment. It needs to be left alone.

I have no doubt that Ames Construction has the technical expertise to realize what their plans are going to do to this area’s infrastructure.

Alliant should care for the community that has hosted its Lansing Power Plant for so long. Alliant should consider the effect its plans will have on the community. Please, Alliant, reconsider bringing in dirt and removing coal by barge, as you have done business in the area for so long. Save Lansing, the beautiful Driftless Area, this important ecosystem and the migrations routes of more than half of all U.S. bird species.  Please protect the farmers of this area, the commerce and beautiful Allamakee County.

Anna Reeves
Salt Lake City, UT