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Residents urge improving route

Staff writer

USD 398 Superintendent Rex Watson and eight supporters urged Marion County Commissioners Monday to begin work to improve 40th and 60th roads between Peabody and Burns. Commission Chairman Randy Dallke recused himself from the decision, joining residents on the opposite side of the commission table.

Safety, particularly of children, is the primary concern, Watson said. Buses travel between the two towns on those roads. Potholes and deteriorating shoulders make the roads unsafe, he said.

The condition of the road also damages vehicles. School vehicles on that route require more repairs than vehicles used elsewhere, Watson said.

He said he understands money is an issue, and the district has considered alternate routes, but 14 students live along those roads.

The school district and residents have been making efforts to bring the Burns and Peabody communities figuratively closer, and good roads would help.

“That road is a barrier to what we want to do,” Watson said.

The roads haven’t been rebuilt since the late 1970s or early 1980s, Herzet said.

Timber Road between 40th and 60th roads is in much better condition, residents said. Watson said that quality would be fine.

Reworking 40th and 60th roads the way Timber Road was repaired in 2009 would require them to be torn up for some time, Commissioner Dan Holub said.

The district could find alternate routes temporarily, and without action the district would have to find different routes for safety sake, Watson said.

“Once you’ve lost a life, you’ve lost a life,” USD 398 Board of Education President Terry Eberhard said.

County road repairs planned

Several stretches of road that were worked on in 2009 are again on a tentative list of roads that need chip sealing in 2010.

Limestone Road between 290th and 330th roads and Timber Road between 40th and 60th roads were double chip sealed in 2009, converting them from gravel to blacktop roads.

Both roads are scheduled for chip sealing in 2010, Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Herzet said Monday. County Commissioners were displeased with the results of contractor Blevins Asphalt of Mount Vernon, Mo.

One issue with the work from 2009 was the amount of dust created by the material the company used in chip sealing roads. The native limestone chips were pulverized by vehicles, causing dust problems. Some stretches of road continue to have dust issues, commissioners heard Monday.

The county has to do something different than what was done in 2009, Dallke said.

To prevent a repeat of the same kind of dust problems, Herzet plans to use the same chip seal material Kansas Department of Transportation used on K-256. The material, called Build X, is more expensive but lasts longer and doesn’t create dust problems, he said.

Other stretches of road tentatively scheduled for chip sealing are Remington Road between 290th Road and Pilsen, 360th Road between Pawnee and Quail Creek roads, Pawnee Road between 360th and 370th roads, 150th Road between Indigo Road and K-15, Kanza Road between U.S. 56 and 290th Road, Limestone Road between 290th and 330th roads, and Old Mill Road from 60th Road to the Butler County line.

The oil and other material necessary to chip seal those roads would cost about $463,000, Herzet said. He indicated county employees could do the work. Work on 33 miles of road in 2009 cost $701,474 using Blevins Asphalt.

Dallke said he would like to include patching and possibly chip sealing at Marion County Park and Lake.

Funding is the question for Tampa road

It is a matter of “how” rather than “whether” to pay for asphalt on 330th Road from K-15 to Tampa, Holub said. An engineer estimated laying 6 inches of asphalt on the gravel road would cost between $1.5 and $1.8 million.

Anything less than 6 inches thick would be a waste of money because it wouldn’t hold up to heavy truck traffic to Cooperative Grain and Supply, commissioners have heard.

Dallke asked from where funding would come. The county has money in its capital improvement fund, but commissioners are unwilling to empty that fund.

Holub is hopeful that tax money from the Keystone Pipeline will ease the burden of repairing roads in the future.

Tampa residents are rankled by what they see as the county paying to maintain some asphalt roads purely for convenience, especially the “lunch route” of 190th Road between Marion and Hillsboro, Holub said.

Commissioners decided to search for possible funding solutions for the project.

In other business:

  • Marion County Extension Council Monday was urged to cooperate with the council from Dickinson County to share services as an alternative to forming an extension district.
  • Nick Nickelson presented plans for rental cabins at Marion County Park and Lake. There could be eight cabins, an office, and seven rentals. The cabins would be privately owned and operated, but would be built on land leased from the county. Nickelson said he wasn’t ready to make a formal proposal because of cost and financing questions.
  • Hillsboro Community Hospital’s future location is not part of the city’s neighborhood revitalization plan, so the company likely will apply to be part of the county plan. That would mean the company would receive tax rebates from the county, school district, and other taxing districts, but not the city. The city would keep all of its tax receipts from the hospital.

The next commission meeting will be March 31.

Last modified March 25, 2010

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