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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commission discusses closure of road, unsafe bridge

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  • An aging bridge, and other unsafe conditions, likely will lead to the permanent closure of a road on the Butler/Harvey County line.
    At their meeting Monday, Harvey County Commissioners discussed the bridge, which is between Southeast 84th and 96th and belongs to Butler County. Officials reported Butler County agrees with the plan to close the road.
    "It's probably a good idea, for safety reasons," recommended Greg Nye, county counselor.
    Jim Meier, county Road and Bridge superintendent, had previously reported issues with the bridge in 2008. Then, in October, he said he was contacted by dispatch and informed the bridge was out. A Jeep had dropped off the road before it reached the bridge, in a severely washed-out area of the road. The accident occurred in the morning, about 7:30 a.m. It is not known if alcohol was involved in the accident, and the driver waited about 9 to 10 hours to report the incident, Meier said.
    Butler County had not put up signs warning about the bridge, though Harvey County now has put up barricades, Meier said.
    Meier told the commissioners the bridge was built in the 1940s and is in poor condition. The road itself also is not in good shape. There are deep ruts in the road, along with patches of thick overgrowth. Meier said when he went to inspect the road, he reached a point where he had to stop his vehicle and go the rest of the way on foot.
    County counselor Greg Nye recommended the road in question be formally vacated. Although simply closing the road would provide an opportunity to replace the bridge in the future, he said formally vacating the road will remove the county's liability.
    Commissioner Ron Krehbiel asked if the county should also consider formally vacating other roads that have been closed due to bridge concerns. Early last year, commissioners voted to close and remove two bridges, one at Northwest 96th Street, a half mile west of North Mission Road, crossing West Emma Creek, and another at Southwest 96th Street, about a half mile west of South Kansas Road, crossing Jester Creek.
    "If we're going to close a road, we might as well follow through and vacate it," Nye suggested.
    Other business
    Commissioners also heard a report from Harvey County West Park staff about the recent Boy Scout Trappers' Rendezvous at the park.
    The three-day annual event drew more than 6,000 campers and brought in more than 8,000 visitors overall to the park, staff estimated. Attendees came from all across the United States, including Arkansas and Iowa. The Harvey County Sheriff's department, Halstead Fire/EMS and park staff helped to patrol the park during the weekend.
    Shannon Metz with West Park said the scouts always are well-behaved and polite, and they make sure not to leave any trash or litter in the park.
    Page 2 of 2 - "If it's on the ground and it's not supposed to be there, they pick it up," she said.
    In future years, Metz is considering offering a tram service to transport campers from parking areas to the campgrounds, to help with parking issues.
    She thought the event this year was a success, and she said park staff enjoy hosting the event every year.
    "We're very happy with the way it went," she said. "... It was a fun event."
     
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