Tampa residents express frustration with damaged road

More than 20 Tampa residents came to the Marion County Commission meeting Monday to ask what is to be done about chronically damaged roads under construction that leave them with limited access to their community.

Kent Becker told the commissioners that Tampa has become an isolated town. Stan Utting, director of Agri-Producers Inc., cooperative said the company has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the county road situation.

Utting saidfarmers had avoided bringing the wheat harvest into Tampa with the co-op?s headquarters and adequate facilities because of the roads, and had gone into other towns, forcing the co-op to upgrade facilities there.

?Over the years we?ve had groups come here time after time to talk about roads, and it?s the same every time,? Utting said. ?You talk about actions, and nothing ever happens. What are you going to do about it??

Tampa residents said the main access roads into town have degenerated into rubble with chunks of asphalt that break car windshields, destroy car bodies and cut the life of tires.

One resident had a hole knocked in her car?s fuel tank last week. They said people don?t want to visit them at Tampa because of the roads, and there were several statements of concern for the safety of children on school buses once school resumes.

Chris Costello, attorney and president of Tampa State Bank, said, ?We feel like we?re really being shortchanged (by the county) at Tampa. We pay taxes and get very little. Whatever you?re doing, it isn?t working.?

Costello told of getting out of his SUV after coming into town and thinking he might have a flat because the car was pulling to the side. Instead he found the mud along the broken road was pulling him over.

?I was bottoming out on a blacktop road,? Costello said. ?It is dangerous.?

The residents said semi-trucks trying to bring supplies to town have a difficult time.

Utting and others said the commissioners might consider the economic impact of roads and infrastructure before spending for other things to stimulate the county?s economy. Utting said he would pay more taxes for roads.

?Do you have any plan or management here, or is this management by crisis?? Utting said.

John Summerville, acting road and bridge director, acknowledged that his department is short of workers, equipment and money, especially with $3 and $4 a gallon fuel, to do roads as quickly and satisfactorily as the residents wanted them.

He said his crew is working on the four miles of access road south of Tampa to the Durham/Lincoln-ville Road, hauling in gravel and compacting it to make a better road bed.

He said the first mile of road will be done this week, then the crew will leave for other work, and return after that to do the second mile. Summerville said it takes two weeks to complete one mile of road.

?It will be a couple of months before we can chip and seal it. By then it will be the end of the summer so cold weather may stop us,? Summerville said.

The Tampa residents said they go to neighboring counties and find better hard-surface roads. They noted the asphalt has lasted well on the Durham/ Lincolnville Road, and suggested such a 4.5-inch overlay on one access to town would help them.

They also noted that Ramona benefitted from a double chip-and-seal overlay. Summerville said the county has to lay more rock and do more compaction ?to get more bang for the buck? before doing overlays.

He said roads like the Roxbury Road and into Tampa ?were designed 50 years ago, and they won?t hold up under our heavy traffic. I can?t wave any magic wand to make this go away.  We will have to give it time.

?There?s no quick fix. We?re hauling in $12,000 worth of rock a mile. Last year the asphalt that was worth $1.35 a gallon is $3.33 a gallon now.?

The Tampa residents said that maybe the county should consider hiring contractors to hasten the process.

The commissioners said they would have to look at raising the mill levy to pay for roads.

As the group was leaving, Costello said, ?Let us know what you?re going to do.?

After meeting with Rocky Hett, the commissioners gave him unanimous acknowledgement that the commercial and demolition waste depository he proposes on his land where the Martin Marietta Quarry is located meets with the county?s solid waste plan.

Rollin Schmidt, transfer station director, explained to the commissioners that they were neither approving or disapproving of Hett?s proposal.

Their statement that he fits with waste planning simply enables him to move on to receive a similar affirmation from the regional solid waste authority, Schmidt said. After that, his planning and operation would fall under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Schmidt said.

Hett said much of the preliminary requirements for KDHE for the C&D site were done nearly eight years ago by the company Waste Management when the location was being considered for a municipal solid waste landfill.

Those requirements included such things as seismic effects, water flow and buffer zones, he said.

Commissioner Dan Holub said, ?It would save everybody in the county a lot of money. We wouldn?t have far to haul the waste.?

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