By William Snesrud
Amidst public worries presented at Monday mornings weekly meeting, the Board of McPherson County Commissioners made the decision to reroute an upcoming detour needed to work around a lengthy bridge rebuild.
McPherson County resident, Gail Albrecht, appeared before the Commissioners to discuss the detour that was being set up to work around bridge work that is beginning on Smoky Valley Road just east of I-135.
The bridge project is scheduled to begin this week and will be a major replacement, meaning that Smoky Valley Road from 18th Avenue to west would be closed to traffic for up to eight months or until sometime in early June 2018.
According to McPherson County Public Works Director, Tom Kramer, detour signs were already posted at Roxbury letting traffic know that a detour was ahead and the current plans were to run the detour north off Smoky Valley Road onto 18th Avenue to Wells Fargo Road where the travelers can turn back west toward Lindsborg. Kramer also mentioned that he believed they had also posted weight limit signs where needed.
According to Albrecht, the stretch of 18th Avenue they were hoping to use is only covered in sand and gravel, plus becomes very narrow and during wet weather is very slick and with no shoulder area can find bigger rigs in trouble of sliding off the road when trying to pass other vehicles. Albrecht also pointed out some possible weight limits, though admitting that many farm vehicles of all sizes as well as cattle and crude oil trucks travel them already and most likely will anyway.
Kramer noted that the stretch of 18th Avenue in question that runs north from Smoky Valley Road was maintained by the local township and that while Public Works had offered to rock the road if requested, at this point in time no request had been made.
One option that Kramer discussed was running the detour south out of Roxbury on 27th Avenue down to Highway 56 and around, though it would cause a much lengthier and time-consuming trip for those hauling cattle, crude oil, etc.
The Commissioners inquired about using 18th Avenue south from Smoky Valley Road, as that road is a county road and already maintained with heavier duty rock, as well as being wider. Kramer responded that while that was true, the detour would still run traffic nearly seven miles south before they could return west on Pawnee Road. Kramer also acknowledged that no matter which way you run the detour, many drivers will attempt to find the shortest route regardless, even if it means running on roads not weighted for trucks and farm vehicles.
After much discussion the Commissioners and Kramer concluded that since the township responsible for the road going north off Smoky Valley Road on 18th Avenue was giving any signs of requesting help, combined with the obvious increase of traffic due to the length of the bridge project, that possible the best solution was to run the detour south on 18th Avenue toward Pawnee Road instead. The Commissioners motioned and approved the rerouting of the detour and Kramer acknowledged that Public Works would get on the project and redirect all the detour and weight limit signs as needed.
In other business, John Verssue, McPherson County Planning/Zoning/Environment Administrator, presented the Commissioners with two proposals of new Meteorological Towers, in a special use request around 19th Avenue and Pioneer Road for testing needed for a proposed wind farm in the area of northeastern McPherson County and Northwestern Marion County. Verssue informed the Commissioners that the Zoning Board had recently given their approval with a unanimous 6-0 vote.
After a brief discussion and clarification on whether any area landowners had a made any objections and noting that the testing and Towers could be there for three to five years, the Commissioners gave their approval to move forward with the special use request.
Director of McPherson County Emergency Management/Communications, Julie McClure requested and received the approval for a new hire as a dispatcher. According to McClure, the hiring of Megan Dieckmann would bring the dispatching department to within one position of being full.
Among items discussed at an afternoon Work Session with County Public Works were getting quotes to mill asphalt for next season, the asphalt plant building project and the prospect of getting a new flatbed truck. The Commissioners tabled any discussion concerning the limiting of Jake Brakes around the area of Love’s Travel Center.
Next meeting for the County Commission will be 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16, in the Fifth Floor Conference Room of the County Building at 122 W. Marlin. All meetings are open to the public for attendance and input.