Marion County Commission met Monday with five Tampa businessmen who seek to have an asphalt road into town.
Stan Utting, David Mueller, Craig Settle, Chris Costello, and Tampa Mayor Jim Clemmer outlined reasons why 330th Road from Tampa to K-15 should be asphalt. The road currently is gravel.
Tampa is one of two Marion County cities, along with Ramona, without a state or U.S. highway entering town, and Tampa has heavy commercial truck traffic to local businesses.
More than 5,000 semis travel 330th into Tampa every year, Utting said. Many of those carry hazardous materials like farm chemicals and fuel.
Commission Chairman Dan Holub said the county cannot continue to have that traffic on a gravel road.
Establishing a road able to withstand that traffic would require six inches of compacted asphalt, Holub said. It could cost about $2 million for the four-mile road.
Businesses in Tampa are important not just to the city, but the whole county, Utting said.
Settle, Cardie Oil president, said the company’s payroll is almost $2 million per year, and a large majority of that is to county residents.
Businesses want to continue growing, but without a good road it’s inconceivable, Settle said.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said sometimes the county and cities get caught up bringing new businesses and forget about existing businesses.
Kansas Department of Transportation’s revolving loan fund could finance the road work, Utting said. Loans are available for up to 20 years.
Commissioners said they would look more at cost and financing of such a project.
A good gravel road is just as safe as an asphalt road, Summerville said in discussions earlier in the meeting. “The only difference is perception.”
In other department business:
Commissioners discussed which county roads to chip seal. Summerville said 150th, 190th, Indigo, Quail Creek, and Upland roads are the best candidates for chip sealing.
If the county chip sealed all of those roads, though, there wouldn’t be any time for other road and bridge projects, such as blade patching Nighthawk Road or installing box bridges. Oil availability could be another limiting factor, Summerville said.