Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pothole problems

Rough winter puts strain on area roads

March 5, 2008

With the end of the cold season also brings the beginning of pothole season.

Mike Spickelmier, Leavenworth County Public Works director said he hasn't seen road conditions like this in 23 years - and they're conditions that have caused county crews to experience some difficult challenges.

"It's hit hard on the asphalt roads, but it hit really hard on the gravel roads" Spickelmier said. "Right now the roads are falling apart."

County public work crews have been working since January trying to re-gravel as much of 500 miles of rural roads as possible to keep them in a safe driving condition.

Commissioner Dean Oroke said that this winter has been tough on county roads and county crews who have been dispatched 16 times to clear the roads as opposed to the five times crews have been needed to clear the roads in the last two years.

"When it freezes and then thaws, there is just no bottoms to the roads," Oroke said about the county's gravel roads.

The commissioner said the county spent about $160,000 in January to have rocks crushed for gravel roads.

In a conversation with commissioners Tuesday, he added that one garbage truck carrying a 16- or 18-ton load or one large grain truck traveling a county road contributes more wear and tear than 200 or 300 cars.

"So I think that there's a number of factors that contribute to the overall impact of the roads," he said.

Commissioner J.C. Tellefson raised the possibility of spending a little more on gravel roads this year to make sure they are sustainable for next winter.

Commission Graeber said, if that were the case, the county would need to secure more rock for future improvements, because the current supply of crushed is "very soft."

Tellefson suggested crushing rock sooner this year to increase the county's stockpile.

It's a much different for the paved roads.

"They're in OK shape. They will require a little more than usual maintenance this summer," Spickelmier said.

The stretch of warmer and dryer weather has allowed both city and county crews to apply some cold mix asphalt to some problem areas to temporarily relived the pot hole problem until crews start their major repair work in May.

On the city's side, Butch Rodgers, the city's superintendent, said Tonganoxie has been a luckier compared to other cities.

"As bad as this winter was, with all of the major improvements the city has made on roads it has helped dramatically," Rodgers said. "Some of the older roads are starting to deteriorate and if we don't spend a little extra maintenance on them this summer, if we have another winter like this they will get really bad."

Last week, Rodgers and the public works crews were out laying down cold mix to fill in some holes.

Rodgers said the biggest problem in the city is Pleasant Street near the bridge. He didn't want to spend too much time patching up some of those holes when construction around the bridge would require the road to be torn up.

-Lansing Current reporter Joel Walsh contributed to the report.

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