Letter: Local government does work

Published 11:31 am Friday, September 20, 2019

As a driver for Southeastern Minnesota Area Rural Transit (SMART), I recognize the importance of having good streets and roads to drive my bus on. SMART drivers pick up and drop off hundreds of people every day who need to be transported to and from work, school and various locations around the city and county. SMART provides an essential service for those who require transportation options in Austin and the surrounding area. To successfully transact our mission, we need good roads to drive on, and the city of Austin and Mower County have done an excellent job of making our byways some of the best in the area.

In recent months, however, I noticed while driving from Apollo Convenience Store on Oakland Avenue West, adjacent Interstate 90, to Mandolin Apartments, that the road was extremely rough and was in need of a “makeover.” Riders on my bus continually complained about the bumpy ride.

I contracted government officials about my concerns about the road, but received minimal feedback. Then, I personally talked to Mower County Commissioner Jeff Baldus. He told me that he had a big to-do list, but that he would keep me apprised if anything should come up. I said to myself that it probably was a pretty long list.

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So, when I drove to the SMART station next to Fordtown recently and saw bright flashing arrows around the Mandolin site, I was a bit surprised. But, I shouldn’t have been, because a county road crew was putting a four-inch slab of asphalt on the Mandolin road. They completed the project in less than a day.

Today, the road is smooth and very easy to navigate. My riders are just as satisfied as I am with the change, and I am certain that the countless other drivers and cyclists of that segment of road are happy with the improvement as well.

I would like to thank Mower County for completing this much needed project. I also would like to do a shout out to Jeff Baldus, Mower County commissioner, who advocated for the road improvement and made sure the job got done.

What I learned from this experience is something that is lost in the current debate around the country: Government works.

And it can work for everything.

Don Leathers

Austin, MN