Township officials from across Barton County gathered Wednesday morning at the Columbus Club in Great Bend to hear updates from county officials at the annual township meeting.
Barton County Engineer Barry McManaman, who moderated the morning meeting, said the annual meeting is important to officers as they conduct their day-to-day business in each of the county’s 22 civil parishes. Most, but not all, congregations were represented at Wednesday’s meeting.
“It helps (community officers) to know what we’re doing and if they have questions they call us and they can see if there are things we can help them with and provide them with resources and information. ‘ McManaman said. “The more people who know how the process works, the better off we (as a county) are.”
In addition to several department heads and several district staff, commissioners from all five districts as well as new commissioner Jon Prescott were present after their own weekly meeting.
Road and Bridge Projects
Officials used most of the first half of the meeting to update on the progress of several significant road and bridge projects.
• Work to widen the intersection of K-4 and NE 60 Avenues at Redwing to accommodate the semi-traffic completed last fall, McManaman told the audience. “It was a big improvement. The folks who live up in this area and drive trucks through realize how much it helped (from a safety standpoint).
Prior to the widening, articulated lorries had to enter the oncoming traffic lanes to turn the corner onto and off the K-4.
• Work continues on safety improvements at the intersection of North Washington Avenue and NE/NW 30 Road after two cars were killed at the intersection in April 2018.
An improvement is a radar warning system that lowers the mast arms over Street 30 to warn eastbound and westbound traffic when it detects oncoming traffic traveling north or south on Washington Avenue. McManaman said other locations around the country have had success with similar warning devices.
Finally, signage improvements include LED turn signals on stop signs, as well as radar speed indicators similar to those currently used on Main Street north of 24th. Lane markings will also be improved, along with widening the rumble strips and trimming trees on the south-east corner of the intersection to improve sight lines at the intersection.
• On the NW 50 Road, approximately one mile west of US 281, work is underway to construct a box extension over a drainage ditch that runs under the road. The road will be extended to 16 feet wide on each side above the ditch to address safety concerns on this road. The only work left is adding wing walls at the site. The county received help to fund the project through a KDOT High-Risk Roads Grant.
• The county also recently accepted bids to repair a faulty expansion joint that had come loose at the Arkansas River Bridge on NE 60 Avenue, commonly known as Dartmouth Road. The nearly $40,000 project was recently awarded to L&M Contractors in Great Bend.
The company said it expects to start the one- to two-week project in July, although work could potentially start earlier, McManaman said. The road will be closed during the project period. District road crews have already made temporary repairs to the bridge, so the problem will not pose a traffic hazard until permanent repairs can be completed.
• On the NE 220 Road in Cleveland Township in northeast Barton County, crews have been making repairs to fill several holes in the road caused by disconnection in old drainage pipes under the road.
In light of these safety issues, McManaman warned community officials to always notify county officials when they have safety issues on the roads in their community, such as: B. Visibility problems or lack of object markings and signage. These raise significant safety concerns, he said.
“They perform a very important function of letting people know there’s a problem or an outage,” he said.
• Another project that has been in the works for a long time is the potential replacement of the Walnut Creek Bridge on East Barton County Road, about half a mile east of US 56. The decades-old bridge has long caused problems with farm equipment trying to drive through the area . While equipment has historically been moved onto US 56 to accommodate it, he noted that farm equipment will not be able to use that route during construction as work to widen US 56 between the Great Bend city limits and the K -156 crossing imminent bridge project has been given even greater priority.
The biggest problem with completing the project is that the bridge has never been in a bad enough condition to qualify for KDOT pass-through funding in various programs. For now, the county is waiting to see if the bridge qualifies for funding under one of several state CARES Act stimulus programs. It is uncertain whether federal guidelines will expand sufficiently for the project to qualify for federal funding.
• County Works Director Darren Williams said Road and Bridge workers had laid 38 miles of paved road and 102 miles of dirt road in southwestern Barton County in 2021. The total cost of the improvements was approximately $2.1 million. In 2022, he said, crews will overlay 130 to 140 miles of roads in the southeast portion of the county, east of US 281 and north of Ellinwood.
• Road and bridge teams replaced over 300 damaged signs on county roads as a result of the December 15, 2021 storm.
Barton County Director of Emergency Management Amy Miller briefed officials on the application process for FEMA’s disaster declaration related to the December 15, 2021 storm.
An applicant briefing will be held Tuesday, March 1 at 10:00 am in the Barton County Courthouse Conference Room. Applications for claims related to the storm are due no later than Tuesday, March 15.
Miller briefed officials on the guidelines that must be followed to qualify for federal disaster declarations—$4,788,744.40 in documented damage at the state level, $104,521.30 at the county level, and a worksheet for an individual project of at least 3,500 USD.
To apply for federal disaster declaration assistance, applicants need a federal tax identification number and primary and secondary contact information, including two separate phone numbers and email addresses. All damage must be documented, including dates, before and after photos, and hours spent cleaning dirt or repairing damage, and receipts for all materials purchased.
The application must be filled out online. Miller said her office is available for assistance or specific questions regarding completing the application.
Those who wish to apply but are unable to attend the meeting must inform Miller’s office in order to be put on the applicant list. For those unable to attend in person, a conference call number can also be requested from Miller’s office at 620-793-1919.
The FEMA number assigned to this statement is DR-4640-KS.