Though not a project being taken on by the Harvey County Road and Bridge Department, the planned work by the Kansas Department of Transportation on the bridge along U.S. Highway 50 going over I-135 (set to start July 16) was front and center at Monday's commission meeting.
Harvey County Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier came forward before the commission with a proposal from KDOT, with the state agency offering a lump sum of $20,000 for any repairs necessary due to increased traffic on county roads during construction.
While Meier pointed out that KDOT is aiming to streamline the repair process — with a projected timeline of 70 days — and targeting state routes (U.S. 77, U.S. 56 and Kansas Highway 15) for the official detour, he said there will likely be displacement of traffic onto county roads during this period.
Meier stated that more often than note the roads in Walton typically become a victim during such construction projects and plans have been made to set up barricades blocking off Main Street from highway traffic, but both Meier and commissioners still had concerns about traffic (particularly semi-trailers) using NE 60th Street while repairs are ongoing — particularly traffic heading west.
On that path, Meier said there is a bridge that doesn't load rate high enough for semi traffic — which is why he is also working with KDOT to get signage up with an advance warning advising such traffic to turn south on Woodlawn and not continue on NE 60th Street.
Commission chair Randy Hague stated a concern that advance warnings would not be enough and also questioned if Kansas Highway Patrol could be encouraged to monitor truck traffic in the area while KDOT is handling the bridge construction. As he sees it, if a truck were to damage the county bridge on NE 60th street, $20,000 would not be a significant amount of funding in helping with any potential repairs.
"I partially agree with what you're saying," said commissioner Ron Krehbiel, "but ... I don't see that much choice but to do this."
"We can either agree to this, or we can have nothing," said County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber.
Even when it comes to patching, Hague questioned how far $20,000 would go towards helping the county with additional repairs and wondered if KDOT could be held responsible for any repair issues detoured traffic causes should the county turn down the lump sum, but Meier noted that liability would not fall on the state.
"So much of this is on the driver," Meier said. "Not having something to work with might not be what we want to do."
Admittedly, Meier said he was surprised that the state was offering monetary assistance (though he had asked for a larger amount initially). The commission did request some additional monitoring of the county roads around Walton during the extent of the KDOT project — in an effort to protect its roads — but did ultimately agree to the agreement with KDOT for the $20,000.
In other business, the county commission:
Raised concerns being heard about the status of Hesston Road and if work is planned to be done, with Meier noting maintenance of that road is scheduled to take place this week.
Learned of efforts being spearheaded by The Barn of Burrton to host a beer garden during the Harvey County Free Fair this year.
Was notified that the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks would be making a presentation about hunting at East Park at next week's commission meeting.
Received tonnage comparisons from Solid Waste superintendent Rollin Schmidt that are routinely provided on an annual basis, with it being pointed out that grass/leave totals are down compared to previous years due to the dry conditions.
Approved a request for bid for a landfill compactor for the Solid Waste Department, amending the bid sheet to include specifications about the unit's size.
Accepted a proposal from Straight-Line Striping to stripe 27.46 miles of county roads, waiving the normal purchasing policy as Meier noted the company consistently provided the best deal when the contract went out to bid.
Heard a report on statistics for the month of June from Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay, which included 116 cases being pulled, 496 traffic stops, 62 tickets issued, 44 arrests made, seven non-injury accidents responded to, five injury accidents, eight deer accidents and one fatality accident.
Learned that Emergency Management Director Gary Denny is currently working on two incident action plans for both the Conquer the Gauntlet and the Sand Creek Summer Daze events.
Approved the Health Department's WIC Grant budget for submission, authorizing the health department to sign for the county.
Received a report on second quarter finances from Director of Finance Dan Bronson, with revenues and expenditures at expected levels.