Whether you call it 190th Rd. or “Old 56,” you can now call the alternate thoroughfare between Marion and Hillsboro something else: Closed indefinitely.
Citing safety concerns from continuing erosion of the Cottonwood River bank on the south side of the road just east of Old Mill Rd., county officials ordered the road closed between Pawnee and Old Mill Rds. at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“It looks like a slab of concrete out there has recently cracked,” commission Dan Holub. “There’s no cracks in the pavement yet or anything like that, but it doesn’t feel right.”
Road and bridge superintendent Jesse Hamm said he’s been keeping a “steady eye” on the site since the concrete embankment suffered significant damage from high water in the wake of rains around July 4.
“The rains haven’t stopped,” he said. “The erosion has been getting larger. I feel a significant difference in the firmness of the road. Our guardrail seems to be moving in toward the river. It just comes down to a safety issue.”
Road closure signs have been placed on 190th at Pawnee and Old Mill Rds., with additional warning signs at Jade, Nighthawk, and Remington Rds. to give drivers chances to divert to US-56 or gravel roads.
Hamm said the road will be closed until the county can come up with a permanent fix. He has no idea how long that might be.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that’s going to come out here and say ‘You’re safe to go, open it up,’” he said. “I know we’re going to get a lot of flak for this, but people’s safety is more important to me. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”
One person inconvenienced will be Hillsboro mayor Delores Dalke.
“It’s my way to get to Marion; it’s the way I always go,” she said. “I go there a lot and I don’t want to have to go out to the highway.”
Dalke said when the new US-56 was opened, commissioners argued about continuing to maintain 190th because “it wasn’t necessary any longer.”
Marion city administrator Roger Holter gave several reasons why he was “hoping for an expedient resolution” to the closure.
“We provide the fire protection for five districts, two of which that’s our direct access to them,” Holter said. “EMS covers that part of the county from Marion. For a specific segment of our population, that’s their primary route between the two towns as they try to avoid the higher speeds of the highway.”
Hamm said fixing the problem will be “very expensive,” and that the county is looking for grants or other funding to help pay for repairs.