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Roxbury, rocks or asphalt?

330th Rd. plans depend on timing, bidders, cost

News editor

Landowners curious about the county’s plans for 330th Rd. west of K-15 packed Durham Community Center and peppered officials with questions Thursday, but commissioners still were searching for timelines and solutions Monday.

Often referred to as the Roxbury road, the eight-mile stretch from K-15 to the McPherson County line was gravel from 2007 to 2012, when a 2” asphalt overlay was put down. It has deteriorated badly since then.

Drivers now face an obstacle course of crumbling asphalt, huge gravel patches, and occasional potholes caused by traffic and weather on a road with no shoulders and deep ditches.

A mismatch between the road base and the asphalt surface led to the deterioration, Darin Neufeld of EBH and Associates told landowners Thursday.

“If that road had a concrete surface on it instead of asphalt, that base would hold up for generations,” Neufeld said.

Recent core samples of the base revealed the composition is such that it can shift and move, which doesn’t affect hard concrete.

“That asphalt just can’t structurally handle that movement,” Neufeld said.

A recommended fix would involve using the equivalent of a giant tiller to mix up the existing asphalt and base to a depth of 12 inches, inject liquid concrete slurry, then mix it all again. Once hardened, it would support a 3-inch asphalt overlay.

However, commissioners wanted feedback on an additional plan to acquire an additional 15 feet of right of way on each side of the road to allow for three-foot shoulders and more gradual-sloping ditches.

“I think the biggest part of this is the safety aspect,” Neufeld said.

Those present approved of the concept, but had questions about particulars, beginning with fences.

“There’s approximately six and a half miles of them on those paved miles and 90 percent are pretty good fences,” Mark Unruh said. “Are you proposing to pay to move that over? Is the county going to pay for all that cost?”

Neufeld said that for Kansas Department of Transportation projects, the department paid for the land and the cost to move good fences. Bad fences were replaced.

“Tonight I had a gentleman tell me that $10,000 a mile puts a fence in,” commission chairman Randy Dallke said. “That’s a figure we didn’t have sitting there talking with Darin the other day.”

Dallke said the cost of moving and replacing fences would be worked into an overall estimate that has yet to be developed.

With little exception, questions about culverts, field entries, utilities, waterways, and other items received similar answers. A cemetery along the road would not be disturbed.

Dallke also said that the project would be paid for from the county budget, rather than by levying a special assessment on landowners.

Another question focused on access during construction.

“If this project goes through, the road will be shut down, correct?” Tammy Ware said. “That’s our only access to K-15. Are you going to gravel 340th Rd. all the way through so we have an easement out, or does that mean we go clear to Durham and come back that way and back around to go to Tampa?”

Neufeld said the project could be done in sections to limit inconvenience. Emergency vehicles could drive down portions under construction as long as conditions allowed, he said.

Road and bridge superintendent Jesse Hamm echoed comments made by some about a proposed wind farm in that area.

“One of the biggest concerns is the wind farm coming in,” he said. “I don’t want to see a new road get torn up right away.”

It the commission chose to start work on the road as soon as possible, shoulder and ditch work would have to come later because of the process of acquiring land.

“If everybody agreed right up front, I can’t imagine that’s going to happen in less than 12 to 18 months,” Neufeld said. “To be fair to both parties, every single parcel is going to have to be surveyed, and then the title work, the appraisers. It’s not going to be a quick process.”

After the meeting, landowner Ray Redger was optimistic.

“Nobody wants to lose their land, but we can’t have a good road if we don’t have good ditches,” he said. “It’s time we get serious about fixing this road, and I think it’s going to happen. I’m glad.”

Gravel before asphalt?

As commissioners and Hamm continued the discussion at Monday’s regular commission meeting, it was apparent more questions remained to be answered.

Hamm and commissioner Dianne Novak both expressed concern that they didn’t have enough information about design options. Hamm said he had talked with other contractors that provided different information about options than Neufeld.

“If we go with slurry, we’re dedicated to one bidder solely, one in the country,” Hamm said.

“That’s kind of scary. I’m not too impressed with that,” Novak said.

Hamm continued.

“I think Darin and TerraCon and other contractors need to get their facts and stories straight so we know what our best options are,” he said. “I’m opposed to having just one contractor bid and that’s it.”

With costs yet to be determined and timelines for starting roadwork growing shorter with the approach of fall, Dallke tossed out another option to consider: taking the road back to gravel.

“All rock would be better than what’s happening up there now, I think,” Dallke said. “I’d like to know if we were to tear the blacktop up and bring more rock in whether than would hurt the project he’s describing. I’d at least like to get it to rock first if we don’t do the project. If we do the project we’ll just go with it.”

Becker was concerned about the cost of gravel, as well as delays in bidding.

“You’re talking about tearing out eight miles of asphalt and hauling in rock; you’re talking some major bucks,” he said. “I think we need to get this bid process started. We know how the landowners feel, we know what they’re looking at.”

Novak urged patience.

“I don’t want to go too fast and overlook something,” she said.

Commissioners and Hamm agreed to work with Neufeld to more thoroughly explore options in a timely manner.

Last modified Aug. 10, 2017

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