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Chase County road issues vex Marion landowners

Rule limiting truck weights boosts traffic of trucks hauling rock on Marion County’s roads

Staff writer

Heavy quarry trucks may be tearing up Marion County roads because of a change in how Chase County routes traffic.

Chase commissioners decided to limit traffic on part of Middle Creek Rd. to trucks that have a registered weight under 54,000 pounds.

After the change, there was a significant increase in trucks using Marion County roads to haul rock from Chapman and Turner Limestone on Middle Creek Rd., Lincolnville resident Tim Donahue said.

Donahue, who owns land in Marion and Chase counties, was nervous about having so many extra trucks on rough Marion County roads. They began running on Chase County’s alternate route instead after a few days.

“Our Marion County roads, especially in this part of the county, we don’t have the pristine roads the rest of the county has,” he said. “I didn’t want them running on Marion County roads over here, that was my biggest complaint. For right now anyway, that’s not happening.”

The commissioners’ decision applies to Middle Creek Rd.’s paved portion near Elmdale at US-50 that runs a few miles northwest to GP Rd.

It was an important measure to preserve one of the Chase County’s major paved roads, commissioner Anthony Hazelton said.

“That was the last chip-sealed road we had put some money into several years ago,” he said. “We’re trying to keep it from completely going where we would have to chew it up and do something different.”

Commissioner William Fillmore opposed the decision, but it was passed at a meeting where he was absent.

Unlike Marion County, which has a road almost every mile, Middle Creek Rd. is one of few roads extending northwest of Elmdale.

The county’s alternate route runs along Middle Creek Rd.’s western portion until it meets C Rd., then runs south to US-50, which could add 10 to 13 miles onto a trip.

“Most of those farmers up there would bring their corn and beans to Murphy Agri at Strong City,” Fillmore said. “Now being that they’re going to have to take an alternate route, it’s closer to take them to Marion than it is to bring it to him. He’s losing out on a lot of revenue.”

Trucks are not completely barred from traveling the road’s eastern stretch but they have to stay under the county’s weight restrictions.

“You’re allowed to use that road as long as you’re following the weight limits posted,” Hazelton said. “That would be up to the person, but that’s how we have it listed now. We’re not really constricting to be unable to conduct their business.”

That might satisfy the load limitations, but lowering the weight limit of trucks using the road might not solve the issue, Donahue said.

“If you meet the legal 54,000 pounds then you’re just going to run more trucks,” he said. “I don’t know if you gain anything by that or not. The other option is for Chase County to go ahead and tear up those five miles of blacktop.”

If constant detours cause enough of a financial hit for Chapman and Turner, Fillmore is afraid the company might close, relocate, or lay off employees. As a major employer, that would be a big loss for Chase County.

“That’s jobs lost in Chase County,” he said. “Chase County can’t afford to lose jobs. It’s not only unfair; it’s the economic impact it’s going to have on the county.”

He also believed it wasn’t fair to Chapman and Turner because it was the only quarry being forced to adapt.

“That’s the problem I have,” he said. “You can’t shut down one operation and let everybody else go. We have two or three other quarries in the county and they’re running over county roads.”

Last modified Oct. 8, 2020

 

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