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County wants clear plan for roads

Staff writer

Marion County Commission and Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford agreed Monday that the county needs a specific plan for road maintenance and improvement.

Crawford requested that the county prioritize a list of roads needing chip sealing and double chip sealing to provide more direction for Road and Bridge Department.

Commission Chairman Roger Fleming asked Crawford how many miles of chip sealing could be done in a year. Crawford said seven to 10 miles per year would be realistic. In a year with good weather, potentially more could be done.

Fleming suggested creation of a five-year plan for roads. At the low end of Crawford’s estimate, the county could chip seal 35 miles of roads in five years, he said. The county has fallen behind in its efforts to maintain and improve roads without a plan, all while commissioners make promises to their constituents about when road work will be done, Fleming said.

The first step will be putting a stop to grinding up blacktop roads that are in bad condition, at least until existing needs are met. The county has ground up a number of roads in recent years with promises of restoring them to a hard surface within just a couple of years. Examples include 330th Road east of Tampa and 120th Road east of Goessel.

Fleming said his first choices of projects to be completed would be double chip sealing 120th Road from Goessel to the McPherson County line and 90th Road from K-15 to the McPherson County line, with 120th Road between Goessel and Indigo Road completed as soon as possible. Road and Bridge Department already has materials stockpiled for the projects to the county line in the area.

Commissioner Dan Holub said his first choice would be five miles of 330th Road east of Tampa. Holub said if the commission can justify maintaining 190th Road between Marion and Hillsboro — what he calls the “lunch route” — as a blacktop road, justifying returning 330th Road to a hard surface should be no issue.

Commissioner Randy Dallke was not present for that portion of the meeting.

Crawford reminded the commission that chip sealing requires a lot of manpower, taking department employees away from their usual duties.

Engineering firm Kirkham Michael will probably be ready for bid letting on 330th Road between Tampa and K-15 before the end of the year. The county plans to hire a contractor to put an asphalt overlay on the gravel road. The estimated cost of the project is about $1.8 million.

Road and Bridge Department will seek bids for a trailer to haul department equipment. The trailer in use now is 14 years old and becoming increasingly difficult to use. The county had an early estimate of $48,000 for a replacement that is a simpler style with less that can go wrong.

Striping on Nighthawk Road between U.S. 50 and U.S. 56 could be complete by the end of the week.

Crawford said getting sand for roads in the northwest corner of the county would be much more expensive than originally believed. A sand pit in Dickinson County that he was told about doesn’t operate most of the year, he said.

Last modified Oct. 27, 2011

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