Over the last 15 years, gravel prices have doubled while tonnage sourced for our roads driven by rural residents has remained relatively stable. This presents a persistent financial challenge, but a recent land purchase at auction by Woodbury County presents some good news for the long term.
The county’s purchase includes 77 acres of land at $7,200/acre. The benefits include: 1) a major gravel site efficiently located near others. 2) rentable farmland to be returned to public use after the completion of gravel mining. 3) grounds near Little Sioux Park, which completes a 2.5-mile-long strip of land on the west side of the Little Sioux River used for conservation, recreation, hunting and fishing.
Ground-penetrating radar leads to an engineer’s estimate that the property contains 600,000 tons of useable gravel for our secondary roads. By owning this source, we save $1 per ton in production when compared to privately owned sources. Based on this savings, the payback period (to general fund reserves) is just over four years, not to mention the benefit of the gravel itself. - Matthew Ung, Sioux City, Woodbury County supervisor