Thanks to a program through the Kansas Department of Transportation, Harvey County has a prime opportunity to improve the safety of its roads — something brought before the Harvey County Commission at its meeting on Tuesday.

KDOT's Local Road Safety Plan program was implemented with the goal of reviewing crashes, analyzing data for certain stretches of road, developing a list of safety strategies, hosting safety workshops and more. The goal for KDOT is to create safety plans for each county in Kansas, working in roughly 20 counties per year over five years. Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier noted he is operating under the belief that Harvey County would be placed on the program schedule in 2020 — though that was not expressly stated in the documentation he brought forward on the program.

Roads studied in the program will include all major collectors and other paved roads under county jurisdiction, with Harvey County featuring 47 miles of major collectors and 148 miles of additional paved roads. The cost for the program is split 90/10 between the state and local entity, with $5,152.66 the max contribution for Harvey County to be part of the program - though County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber pointed out the county will pay less if the state pays less.

While there were questions from commissioners about waiting to move forward on an agreement with KDOT until an exact timeframe for the safety plan studies is ironed out, there were also some concerned about what that could do to the price tag attached to the program.

"It isn't going to get any cheaper," said commission chair Chip Westfall.

Questioned if participation in the program was a necessity, Meier said the analysis should greatly help in addressing some areas of concern he sees around the county.

"My interest in this has to do with certain curves in this county, for instance, down around Harper's curve...where you have three different directions and traffic crossing in front of other directions with no control. Those kinds of things concern me," Meier said. "They (KDOT) study those areas and make focused recommendations to improve safety."

School buses travel those routes frequently. While local bus drivers help negate some of the safety concerns tied to that, Meier still sees great benefit in agreeing to be part of the Local Road Safety program, which the commission ultimately approved.

In other business, the county commission:

Received invitations to the 99th annual Newton Chamber of Commerce banquet on Sept. 12.
Gave consensus for administrative staff to move forward with a three-year addendum to the current Health Department building lease with Prairie View at a cost of $8.50 per square foot starting in 2020. The addendum includes an annual two percent rental rate increase but also eliminates the policy allowing for an uncapped rate increase due to emergency.
Looked over sales tax distribution numbers for August 2019, which continue to outpace 2018, with Director of Finance Dan Bronson noting the county is ahead of where it was at this time last year by 5.29 percent.
Heard an update on the Harvey/McPherson County Community Corrections situations, with some of the missing financial reports having been turned in to the Kansas Department of Corrections. Swartzendruber reported that McPherson County continues to work with Community Corrections to get the necessary financial reporting in place. If all the necessary financial reports are turned in by the end of September, it was reported an administrator hearing on the situation will be canceled.
Was notified that Harvey County RSVP's third annual 9/11 project will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Newton Walmart, with gloves and blankets being collected for first responders.
Learned that Health Department Chronic Disease Risk Reduction coordinator Lorrie Kessler will be meeting with the Sedgwick City Council to discuss bikeability/walkability improvements in the community.
Terminated the lease with ABI at the Newton City/County Airport.
Approved a $286,615.10 bid from Mies Construction for bridge replacement 24-0.7, pending engineer review and authorizing administration to sign. It was the lowest of three bids received.
Approved proceeding with the Emergency Management Performance grant application (with the county usually receiving $31,594 annually through the grant), which helps offset the director's and other staff members' time through matching funds.
Authorized Solid Waste Director Justin Bland to move forward on a quote to repair the department's CAT D6R dozer at an estimated maximum cost of $33,240.09 and approved Resolution 2019-20 allowing for the department to sell four pieces of equipment (an old semi, walking floor trailer, compost turner and road grader) on Purple Wave.