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Too many roads, too little money

Managing editor

It’s the same problem Marion County has nearly every year — there are more roads in need of repair than there is money to repair them.

The commission met April 27 for a work session with road and bridge superintendent Jim Herzet to discuss which roads would receive attention this year and which roads could wait.

The road and bridge department has $800,000 in the budget for road improvements plus $400,000 from TransCanada Corporation for road damage sustained during the construction of the Keystone Pipeline Project through a part of the county. About $86,000 from the pipeline company will be used to restore seven miles of Remington Road, south of Pilsen, which was the main road used by construction workers during the project.

Herzet presented material costs to rock and sand roads from the two quarries located in the county — near Marion and Florence — and the cost of road oil for sealing roads.

The price of rock ranges from $7.60 to $8.75 per ton, depending on the size of rock. Sand costs $3.65 per ton. Approximately 300 tons of rock is used for one mile of road. About 250 tons of sand is needed per mile.

Asphalt oil runs $2.15 per gallon and 4,520 gallons are needed per mile. Cover material for sealing costs $52.50 per cubic yard and 130 cubic yards are needed per mile of road. AE-P, which is used to put on new blacktop, costs $2.50 per gallon and 1,940 gallons are needed per mile.

Herzet said he has talked with APAC-Kansas about road improvements. He was told the company was working on a new design mix that will give longer life to sealed roads.

“Keystone did us a favor by showing us where our weak spots are,” Herzet said, referring to Remington Road.

He said it would be a good idea to repair Remington Road with continued traffic to St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, and an anticipated increase, because of Father Emil Kapaun’s memorial.

Approximately 33 miles were noted as needing chip and seal this season. Among those were 90th Road from Moundridge, Aulne road to U.S. 77, Sunflower Road south of Marion, Pawnee Road south of the dam at Marion Reservoir, east and west of Lost Springs, and Kanza Road.

It was suggested, that instead of doing the roads near Lost Springs, the county resurface four miles east of Tampa and exchange Sunflower Road with Indigo south of Hillsboro.

The commission also reviewed costs of hand-patch and blade-patch materials.

New equipment

The Caterpillar motor graders will soon be coming off a lease. The commission discussed options of buying the equipment or beginning a new lease with new equipment. Commissioner Randy Dallke asked if it was worth having the larger graders compared to a smaller one. Herzet said softer, sandier surfaces would pull on the front end of the smaller machines.

Herzet suggested the 1990, 1991, and 1988 graders be appraised to be traded for three new machines on a lease. He also suggested making one or two payments per year.

He also commented that the county’s track hoe was in poor condition. The final payment on the John Deere loader is coming up. It will cost $50,000 to $55,000, Herzet said, to repair the 1992 track hoe. The piece of equipment is worth about $15,000, he said. A new track hoe could cost as much as $90,000.

“I want us to do more work with a track hoe than what’s being done now,” Dallke said.

Two pieces of equipment — a track hoe and a bowmag used for compacting road material — were in the county’s budget to be replaced but were removed.

“We get good work when we have good equipment,” Dallke said.

Herzet was instructed to check the price of a new hoe to buy on contract.

Commission Chairman Roger Fleming asked for a complete list of all county road and bridge equipment.

“I believe in rotating equipment,” he said. “We need to replace the three oldest.”

The commission also discussed the rental of a road reclaimer, which pulverizes asphalt layers and mixes them with the underlying base to stabilize deteriorated roads. The equipment can be rented for $24,000 per month but costs $500,000 to buy.

A representative from Caterpillar will be at Monday’s meeting.

The commission went behind closed doors for 30 minutes to discuss Herzet’s job performance evaluation. There were no decisions.

The next commission meeting will be Monday at the courthouse.

Last modified May 5, 2011

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