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Is this a road ... or a lake?

Staff writer

It is the worst of the worst. Between Kanza and Limestone, 180th Road is in the poorest condition of all the minimum-maintenance roads in the county, said Marion County Road and Bridge Superintendent John Summerville.

The road has been impassable since about eight years ago when it was washed away by a creek that changed course, Cal Jost said. He asked Marion County Commission Wednesday to make enough repairs to give him access to a field.

Jost also asked the commission to close the road to prevent more damage from traffic.

“I don’t expect you to fix that whole road, by any means,” Jost said.

Summerville said he planned to replace a collapsed metal culvert with a 24-inch concrete culvert.

The commissioners supported closing the road. They were concerned about where to close the road and who should pay for any gates.

Constructing gates at the intersections with Limestone and Kanza would reduce the need for signs warning motorists about the road closure. They might not stop people determined to go through, though, because the road and fields at the intersection are very close to level.

“If it’s not going to stop traffic, what’s the point?” Commissioner Dan Holub asked.

The commissioners discussed if the county would pay for any gates or whether it would be the responsibility of the landowners.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he knew of several other farmers concerned about minimum-maintenance roads. He said the commission needed to be careful to establish the right precedent with 180th Road.

Summerville said the county can purchase the materials for two gates for about $220 now, but prices could change.

The commissioners voted to require the person requesting a road closure pay $200 or half the cost of materials, whichever is more. The county will provide the labor to erect the gates.

There are about 40 miles of minimum-maintenance roads in Marion County, and four of them are along 180th from Kanza to Old Mill, Summerville said.

Most minimum-maintenance roads only remain open so farmers can access fields. Many are impassable for much of the year. All of the impassable roads in the county are that way because of water — a stream crosses the road or the road floods when it rains, Summerville said.

It wouldn’t be financially feasible to improve minimum-maintenance roads.

“I’d hate to guess how many millions of dollars it would take,” Summerville said.

A road cannot be declared minimum maintenance if someone resides along the road.

Last modified Jan. 7, 2009

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