• Leader & Times


Discussions continue on issues with roads in Seward County, and progress is being made on some of those issues.

At the county commission’s most recent meeting July 1, C.W. Harper of Kirkham Michael & Associates, the engineering firm hired by Seward County to assist with those issues, said a project on Meade Lake Road, or Road 13, was approved for funding under the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Cost Share program.

“I don’t know that we know the exact amount we got yet,” he said. “We requested $1.85 million with KDOT providing $1.1 million and the county providing $750,000 of that. Typically, that’s what you get, but until we get the actual paperwork from them, we don’t know for sure.”

Harper said that money is for a three-inch hot mix asphalt overlay on Meade Lake Road. That project was in a previous asphalt overlay package, but no bids were obtained for the project.

“We checked with J&R Sand,” he said. “They were the only bid holder we had, and they were too busy at this time of year to get anything in.”

Harper said he was simply looking at what the commission wanted to do going forward with Meade Lake Road.

“We have a couple of options, and we can turn around and put that exact same bid package out again,” he said. “It will probably change alternate three to reflect the fact we’ve already got the cost share funding so we know what that one looks like, or we could go ahead and add the 20, 25 miles to that bid and turn it around and get it out for bids now and start work on it in 2025.”

Harper said no bids will likely be found in 2024, and the earliest bids would be open would be the end of July, with work likely not being started until September.

“It’s not an option for this year,” he said. “To me, it makes the most sense to go ahead and roll next year’s in there. It makes it a roughly 30-mile project.”

Harper said the 2025 road schedule includes work on the Satanta cutoff from Road 20 north to Kansas Highway 190 and a mile and a half of Larrabee Road going south from Liberal to the Oklahoma stateline.

“That brings that up to 8.8 miles of additional roadway,” he said. “Our total distance would be right about 29 miles, and obviously, the Cost Share would be included in that.”

These projects are not included in KDOT’s High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) program, but Road I is. Harper said plans for that call for an overlay in 2026, as well as the box extensions, possibly one big project.

“It’d be a non-participating portion onto that HRRR,” he said.

Administrator April Warden asked Harper if the Satanta cutoff would be shut down entirely  with work there. Harper said that cannot be done.

“We’re not going to have the box extensions done,” he said. “We don’t know when can bid the box extensions.”

Harper said the earliest bids could be taken on that project is October 2025.

“If KDOT gives us the go ahead with a flip flop with some of the other funding, we can get them out earlier, but we don’t have permission for that yet,” he said. “That’ll probably take a while. Even if we get a flip flop, there’s a chance it’d work out better to do that overlay the following spring.”

Harper said paperwork on Cost Share funding is close to completion, and while he said he is unsure of how much the county will receive, he said every Cost Share project Kirkham Michael has done has gotten the full amount of requested funding.

Commissioner Steve Helm asked if pothole repair and chip sealing would continue. Warden said she understood this to be the case.

“We are going to do some of that,” Warden said. “We have talked to B&H Paving, and they let us know they could possibly get to us sometime after Labor Day for some chip sealing and crack sealing.”

Warden said the county did receive paperwork for a project program request, which is part of the HRRR program.

“This is similar to what he was talking about,” she said. “You get the information, and you have to sign it. It has the actual project cost estimate in there, and it does require three commission signatures. This is for your High Risk Rural Road grant you got.”

Harper said that money is for box extensions, with some of the design work estimated at $66,000, utilities at $10,000 and right-of-way at $40,000. The actual costs are not known yet, and hopes are to negotiate lower prices.

“CE threw in a budget of $110,000,” he said. “That one is 90/10 KDOT. Your share would be $11,000 of that. That one is a rough number because it’s the inspector isn’t in charge of how fast the contractor works. We document they’re doing everything correctly. The actual construction project is slated at $750,000. That’s also a 90/10 split. The county’s share of that is $75,000 for a total of $976,000. The county share is $202,000 of that.”

Harper reviewed the motions he needed from the commission, including one to accept HRRR funding and sign a program request letter and another to bid hot mix asphalt projects how the commission chose.

“If you want to add on the 2025 projects to it, I’ll probably run it under the same contract we had before, but I’ll probably request a slight change order to account for the additional work of rewriting the specs with the additional stuff,” he said. “It’ll be pretty minimal because we didn’t go through the whole bid process. We didn’t use up all the budget, but we’re reworking some of it.”

Commission Vice Chair Tammy Sutherland-Abbott moved to accept KDOT money for a project programming request in the amount of $976,000, with the county being responsible for $202,000. That motion was accepted unanimously.

Sutherland-Abbott then made a motion to put out for bid Road R, Kismet Road, Meade Lake Road, Road J and Larrabee Road, with the Meade Lake Road project getting Cost Share funding, with Kirkham Michael in charge of getting bids. That motion too was approved unanimously.

Much of the recent road discussion has focused on Road O, and after the votes were taken, Harper updated commissioners and audience members on the situation there.

“We got the soil samples for Road O,” he said. “Those are going out. We should be moving forward on that.”

Sutherland-Abbott asked Harper when materials for projects would be delivered. Harper said he was not sure.

“The sales guy is gone for the week,” he said. “We’ve got quite a bit of work to be done. If you put in the order, it doesn’t necessarily rely on him at this point. It’s shipping, but my person to talk to is not there to tell me when it’s going to be shipped. We’ve got a lot of caliche. We’ve got to shape a road and fix it up, and then we’ll get it done.”

Warden said work on Road O would take many Road and Bridge workers away from other projects.

“To do Road O and to do it properly to get it in the shape we need it to be in, it’s going to require us to pull a lot of staff onto that road,” she said.

Warden suggested bringing in a dirt work crew to help with Road O.

“We’re going to have to take that road down to 28 feet,” she said. “There are places where it’s 32 or more feet. We’re going to have to put the crown in it properly, do the ditch work properly.”

Warden said caliche and soil will need to be mixed right before the sealing agent Perma Zyme can be applied to the road.

“They’ve also told us for that Perma Zyme to work properly, we need to give it at least three days – 72 hours of not letting heavy traffic drive on it,” she said. “We’re going to have to close the road once that’s done.”

Warden said she was unsure of the cost to bring in a dirt work crew to get the road into shape to put the Perma Zyme on and get it ready for future traffic.

“I do want to let you know when we did the upgrades to Road 20, it took close to six weeks, and you’re pulling a crew just to work on that,” she said.

This, Warden said, would leave other Road and Bridge work undone and pull Supervisor Bobby Wright away from office duties and overseeing the crew.

Sutherland-Abbott said county leaders could come up with an estimate of the cost to get a dirt crew in place.

“I was thinking if you got an estimate, Bobby’s already started to put together figures of the amount of crew he is going to need on it, the hourly wages of that crew, what you’re going to  pay in hauling,” Warden said.

Sutherland-Abbott asked what the county spent on the Road 20 project. Wright estimated about $100,000.

Warden said work will be done on Road O before starting work on Road P.

“We’re going to see how it works on O first,” she said of Perma Zyme.

Warden said the dirt crew was simply an idea, and commissioners were not obligated to do it.

“I was going to see what you thought about getting some pricing to see what we’re looking at,” she said. “We can get a quotes comparison.”

Commission Chairman Scott Carr said quotes will be looked at, but the county did not have the money in its budget at this time. Helm said if outside bids are being looked at, specifications need to be made.

“I can work up an estimate of what it would cost, and we can go from there,” Harper said. “We’d have to generate plans and specs to actually do the work and get it out.”

Earlier in the discussion, Sutherland-Abbott had talked about educating the public about what the county was doing about roads, and Warden briefly revisited that topic as the conversation drew to a close.

“The public’s going to have to understand you guys are listening to them,” Warden said. “We’re trying something, and we’re doing it. It is going to shut that road down for a period of time.”

Commissioner Presephoni Fuller said she believes the public will be on board with the idea if given proper notification. She added some people may still miss being notified, and Warden said a good time to advise all constituents can rarely be found.

“Somebody’s always harvesting, or somebody’s hauling,” Warden said. “Everybody has an opinion of what’s best for them during that period of time, and there’s no real good time that meets everybody’s needs.”

The Leader & Times talked to Warden about what the county is doing about roads in the county, and a future story will detail that discussion.

Harper said with Road O closed, traffic will be detoured to Road P, which he said should not cause many problems.

“We’re going to shut the truck traffic down until we get it done, and we’ve given it the time it needs to set up,” Warden said.

Fuller said no matter what is done, the county will still be open for complaints.

“We are creatures of habit, but we are trying to listen to the citizens and make our roads safe,” she said. “It takes time to do those things properly and right.”

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