Township, county choose to not improve road

Chad Frey
The Kansan

There's a minimum maintenance road in the northeast corner of Harvey County that residents on the road, and the Peabody-Burns School District, would like to see get graveled and graded — but the cost of doing so for the half-mile stretch of road has the township balking.

"We try and accommodate school busses as much as we can, but this is something we just can't handle," said Michael Spangler member of the  Walton Township Board

The road is on the Marion County/Harvey County line, between Dutch Avenue and 72nd.

A new home was constructed on the road a few years ago, and that meant improvements to the road to accommodate the home. The township improved one-half mile of the road, rather than the full mile of road the home sits on. 

"That is not unique," said commissioner Randy Hague.

While Ron Traxson, Superintendent USD 398, and the property owners have approached the Harvey County Commission for a fix, it is ultimately not up to the county to do the work. 

"Technically it is a township fix since we have a township system," said Chip Westfall, chairman of the Harvey County Commission. County administrator Anthony Swartzendruber confirmed that the township bears the responsibility — but the county could do something if it chose to after the township makes decisions. 

"It is really the township's responsibility," Swartzendruber said. "It is not the responsibility of the county to maintain a township road unless the township chooses not to do so. If the commission chooses not to do so we can go maintain that road and charge that back to the township."

The county has prepared some preliminary cost estimates for doing the work. 

"[We} did come up with a cost, if you wanted to put two inches of rock down on a mile of about $10,000, just for the rock in addition to the use of equipment," Swartzendruber said. "We don't have a full mile here, but more than likely it will take putting more than two inches of rock down at one time."

Spangler estimated the cost at about $12,000 — based on how much was spent on the half mile of work done to the northern portion of the road. 

Spangler said the township has about $40,000 to spend each year on sand a rock for roads, and the township already spent about $13,000 on the north section of road. 

"Now you are wanting us to spend that much going south, for one house," Spangler said. "That does not seem fair to the rest of the people in the township. ... We do not have the money to do what the want. "

The commission chose on Tuesday to not move forward with any improvements that would be billed back to the township. 

"This is a building permit that should have never been issued," Spangler said. "This whole road is in the flood plain. When it floods, [the family] can not even get out of their driveway to the road. I have to deal with the cards that are given me. Personally, I would have built from the south coming in, but they built from the north."

After the house was constructed, the township rocked a half-mile of road headed north. It is that portion of the road that the school district will use — and that forces bus drivers to back track and reroute. 

"It is 10 extra miles a day, which comes out to about 1,630 miles per year that we would be driving extra to go back around and pick them up,"  said Ron Traxson, Superintendent of USD 398. "When the road is wet it is questionable that we would even drive sometimes. .... When Doyle Creek gets out of its banks it will wash out that area."