County news

Flooding is taking a toll on the Dickinson County Road and Bridge department, but to what extent remains to be seen.

County Administrator Brad Homman said he doesn’t yet know how the department’s budget will be impacted, but flooding has affected crews’ ability to get work done — especially summer roadwork.

“Our guys are busy putting out the fires of flooding — flagging, putting barricades in and out and obviously with all the moisture we’ve had, there’s no time to do the chip seal (road work),” Homman said.

Frequent thunderstorms with heavy rain in recent weeks have caused flooding in Dickinson County, across Kansas and the Midwest. The commission declared a state of local disaster emergency on Monday, May 20, extended it on Friday, May 24 and extended it once again on Thursday.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin asked if the flooding was impacting the road and bridge budget. Homman said he expects to have more information by next week.

“I’m guessing we’re looking at $50,000 to $100,000 in damage so far. We’re going to have to repair culverts, small structures, driveway entrances — little things that are all going to add up,” Homman said. “We’ll have a better feel once the water recedes and we see what damage we do have.”

Crews then will have to spend time repairing the damage, which might affect the amount of roadwork that can be completed this summer.

Some projects must be completed in coming weeks because they are grant funded, including several “fish passage” bridges.

“We’ve only got that certain window outside the Topeka Shiner’s breeding season to do that and if we don’t, we’re going to lose that funding,” Homman said.

Since July 2013, the county has been applying for and receiving funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to replace bridges in the habitat of the Topeka Shiner, a minnow on the critical list of endangered species.

In a worst-case scenario, the county may have to put its chip seal roadwork on hold, Homman said.

Overlay work continues

On the bright side, contractor APAC Shears of Salina has been able to continue repaving work in the southern part of the county.

Homman viewed road overlay work already completed on 500 Avenue from Herington to Hope and on Oat Road. APAC crews are “doing an excellent job,” he said.

“Those folks (in the south part of the county) certainly deserve that. We’ve been doing our best to keep it up for years, but this is a much better solution,” he said.

By Wednesday evening, APAC crews had completed work on the southbound side of Oat Road from Hope south to the county line and were preparing to head back north. Afterwards, they plan to move over to Key Road, from Kansas Highway 4 south to the county line and then over to Deer Road.

State of disaster extended

The commission voted to extend the state of local disaster emergency for an additional seven days, from June 3 to 10.

“We’re hoping we don’t have additional rains, but in the event we do, this gives us the ability to work not only statewide, but nationally,” said Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson. “It’s important we have this.”

Homman reported the 2100 block of Jeep Road was the only road in the county still closed as of Thursday morning and that Solomon Road had opened and closed a couple times as river levels raised and lowered.

He did note that rivers running through the area were lower Thursday than they had been.

“Hopefully that’s an indication that better things are ahead, although Lynn’s (Peterson) news that we’re going to get rain in the next few days may change that,” Homman said.

Road and bridge crews will not be doing most road repairs until the threat of flooding has passed.

“We’ve got a lot of driveway entrances — especially on Eden Road and roads that were under water that need to be repaired, but we’re not jumping to make those repairs,” Homman explained. “We don’t want to put gravel on it then have it (water) come up and wash it out again.”

In other matters, the commission:

• Heard from Chamberlin that he attended a North Central Regional Planning Commission meeting regarding a joint land use study to determine a plan of action for a proposed training corridor between Fort Riley and the Smoky Hill Weapons Range.

The proposal includes the use of air space for unmanned aircraft. Chamberlin said several public meetings are being planned for this summer in affected areas. The corridor may cross the northern portion of Dickinson County.

• Heard from Commissioner Ron Roller who commended all emergency workers and others who have been dealing with flooding and emergency preparedness in the county.

• Approved a proclamation designating June 1-6 as D-Day Commemoration Week.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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