There are many benefits that can be realized from the construction of a wind farm. The most obvious benefit is that they provide a renewable source of energy. Another benefit is the increase in real estate taxes that benefit local governments and school districts. The list goes on, but there is another benefit that is often overlooked, and it actually comes from the very earliest stage of the construction of such projects.
As many rural dwellers know, much of the rural road infrastructure in America leaves a lot to be desired. Most of these roads are maintained by Township governments from monies paid to them that have been collected from motor fuel taxes and real estate taxes. Unfortunately, many rural townships do not have very large real estate tax bases, and therefore, money to keep roads in good repair is hard to come by.
The very first thing done in the construction of a wind farm project has to do with road improvement. Corners and intersections have to be widened to compensate large machinery and turbine parts that require lots of room to navigate turns. Many of these roads were originally laid out on top of the ground, and many have soft spots that are very evident in the early spring as the frost goes out. In Illinois, many township roads are posted at a 5 ton limit for up to 90 days in the spring to prevent heavy loads from travelling on them because they may cause damage to the roads. Because of the weight of the equipment used in construction, and the weight of the wind turbines themselves, these roads have to be rebuilt to withstand the weight that will travel on them during the construction process. This is done through a process called lime stabilization. In this process, large grinding machines are brought in to mix a lime substance, along with water, into the road, see images below. The depth and the amount of lime product used is determined by taking soils samples from the road bed to determine how much weight the soil under the road can support. Once the lime stabilization is complete, a layer of rock is put down on the road to raise the grade of the road to allow it to better shed water. When the construction of the wind farm is complete, the roads may be oiled and chipped to further enhance the road surface, leaving the rural roads in a condition that will make them much easier and cost efficient to maintain, providing a great benefit to the locals who depend on them for travel and transport of agricultural products.