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'Gravel' full of wire a costly mistake

Staff writer

County commissioner Jonah Gehring spent all day Tuesday watching road and bridge crews clean up a mess they made in one afternoon Friday.

He estimated the debacle cost the county up to $2,700.

Road crews Friday spread three loads of what was supposed to be crushed concrete onto a quarter-mile section of Yarrow Rd.

The problem was, what got spread on the road was likely a demolished building. It was a mixture of crushed concrete, crushed brick, wood, wire, rebar, and glass.

Two residents who live on the road complained Monday. Jake DeSelms directed his ire with the road’s conditions to county engineer Brice Goebel, and Paul Helmer to county commissioners during the weekly meeting.

DeSelms called Goebel Monday morning to complain and his neighbor, Paul Helmer, called during the commission meeting.

While Helmer and DeSelms made their disgust clear to the county, road and bridge crews returned to Yarrow Rd. Monday morning and spread a layer of sand over the top of the debris.

After Monday’s meeting, Gehring went to look at Yarrow Rd. and found metal pieces, as Helmer and DeSelms had described.

“I talked to Randy Dallke and said this is unacceptable,” Gehring said. “In a hurry-up attempt this got put down, when it should have come from another pile.”

Gehring estimated the county spent $200 spreading the debris Friday, $500 to $700 spreading sand Monday, and as much as $1,800 Tuesday using 10 trucks to tear up everything done Friday and Monday and then properly gravel the road.

He said there may still be pieces of metal on the section of Yarrow Rd., but things are much better than they were.

“I’m sorry it happened, but when we do something wrong, we need to step up and fix it,” Gehring said. “That’s pretty much all you can do when you make a mistake, is own it and fix it.”

Helmer said he’s pleased commissioners got on the problem and the mess got cleaned up. The road is in better condition than it was over the weekend.

“I think they knew it shouldn’t have been out there. They were right on it,” Helmer said.

Helmer also said the episode was expensive.

“That made pretty expensive limestone by the time they trucked that out three different times,” Helmer said. “They hauled all that out then they hauled out the sand, then they hauled it away, and then they put new down.”

He’s not so pleased with Goebel.

“He took his valuable resources, that are limited, and hauled out crap,” Helmer said. “Then he took his valuable resources and hauled out sand, then used his valuable resources to remove this stuff, then he used his valuable resources to haul in rock, then used his valuable resources to haul it away.”

DeSelms said he drove on the road only twice since Friday.

“I’m lucky enough I live far enough up I can take 220th up to the highway and just miss it,” he said. “It’s the section between the highway and Youngstown church.”

He said when he spoke to Goebel, the county engineer told him “it’s great rock.”

“I said it’s got wire in it,” DeSelms said. “He said, ‘Well, we can’t get all the wire out of it.’ I said is this not brick and crushed concrete? He said it’s good rock. I said no, it isn’t.”

DeSelms said he asked Goebel where to send bills for his tire repairs and Goebel told him to send them to the courthouse of the road and bridge department so the bills could be submitted to the insurance company.

DeSelms disagreed that the rock spread Friday was “a cheaper option.” Not when residents deal with years of punctured tires.

Goebel told commissioners Monday the road department put the crushed rock down “and it worked very, very well” but the county can’t get all the wire out of the crushed concrete.

Goebel said he’d purchased magnets to pick up pieces of metal and wanted to get the magnets going over the road. He said also he would go back and look at it the road again.

Commissioners in January hired Asphalt Paving and Maintenance LLC for $198,900 to crush 39,000 tons of concrete formerly used as road surfacing on US-77 so it could be used to gravel roads in Marion County.

Goebel said at the time he thought the concrete would be spread throughout the county over several years.

County commissioner Kent Becker said using crushed concrete is a good solution if Goebel can get the metal out of it.

“As far as I know that’s the first place it’s been spread,” Becker said. “I have looked at some roads in McPherson County and it seemed to work well over there, but I don’t know how much metal they had in it.”

Gehring said crushed concrete will work as gravel. But what was spread on Yarrow Rd. was not crushed concrete.

“I asked them, ‘what’s your plan’ and Brice said, ‘I want to put sand on it,’ ” Helmer said. “I thought it should be cleaned up today. I just came home and they put sand on it.”

Keith Browning, local road engineer for Kansas Association of Counties, said he thought crushed concrete, graded and properly processed, would be a viable road surfacing material.

“I could see it would make sense to put a layer of road rock on top of it,” Browning said. “Obviously you don’t want glass and wire on the road surface.”

Browning said putting sand on top of the crushed concrete might be a short-term remedy.

“I wouldn’t think that would be a long-term remedy,” he said.

DeSelms said Tuesday he was impressed with the response from commissioners. David Mueller and Dallke also went to see Yarrow Rd.

“They got right on this, and got it taken care of,” DeSelms said.

Last modified May 20, 2021

 

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