River erosion leads to 190th road closure

Marion County Commissioner Dan Holub looks downstream at an area where the Cottonwood River has undermined one of the banks. Standing on 190th Street, the primary road connecting Marion and Hillsboro, Holub also checks the guardrail in front of him. The road was closed last week with a detour established for local traffic.For months the Marion County Board of Commissioners has been watching an area of 190th Street continue to deteriorate until finally it was decided Thurs­day, Sept. 1, to close the road indefinitely.

Commissioner Dan Holub wanted to make it clear that the bridge on 190th was not the problem.

“It’s the area below the guardrails, maybe three-quarters of a mile from the bridge, and between Pawnee and Old Mill roads,” he said.

Holub said the commissioners have not been ignoring this road.

“However, we were not aware of the cave (below the guard posts) either,” he said. “Two months ago we drove by and looked down, but didn’t catch it because the cave was hidden.”

Looking from the other side of the South Cottonwood River, though, Holub said they could see the erosion went clear up to the interlocking metal secured at the top by the guardrails.

“The washout is between 8 to 10 feet, which is also where the biggest part of the bow is in the posts,” he said.

If the metal sheeting, which is locked together, ever lets go, it will start peeling back like a banana, Holub added.

Pictures taken by Road and Bridge personnel showed the whole bank coming away with a lot of that happening after the July rain.

“Our concern is with the eastbound lane falling off the side into the river and taking a car with it,” he said.

With more than three inches of rain in 45 minutes last week, Jesse Hamm, interim superintendent of Road and Bridge, said he was worried about another wall of water coming that could loosen up that area even worse.

“The swag was bigger, the bow in the guard rail was bigger, and with that we decided we weren’t taking a chance anymore,” Holub said.

According to engineers, and state and federal employees who have looked at the road, Holub said they are conservatively guessing the cost to fix this section of road at $600,000 to $700,000.

For now the county is looking at potential grants, but with the flooding in Florida and Louisiana, Holub said this road is probably not a high priority on the list.

Marion offers input

City Administrator Roger Holter talked about the closure, saying it was an action by the county and the city can only take an advisory role in working toward an expedient resolution.

Holter said safety issues while 190th remains closed will increase, and there will be some economic negative impacts for the community and county as a whole.

The city’s concerns were presented to the commissioners at the Aug. 31 meeting.

The concerns, he said, included:

• the route is important to emergency responders in Marion who are called upon to service the townships to the west of Marion.

• a sizable segment of Marion citizens use 190th to avoid the higher-speed traffic of U.S. Highway 56.

“We have seniors throughout the county who are dependent on the route to insure they remain within the comfort zone for the safe operation of a motor vehicle,” he said.

• With the bean and corn harvest beginning, the shift in grain truck traffic and routes could impact more commuters and businesses than just the producers.

• effective communications with elected and appointed public officials could also be improved. The only formal notification received after the county decided to close 190th was the email from the Nixle system at 5:58 p.m., which was several hours after the actual closure.

Within the county, Holter said, EBH engineers in Hillsboro and Marion offices are qualified to access the situation. The county has BG Consultants in Emporia under retainer for other projects.

The Road and Bridge department has received estimates to repair the section of road, and that the USDA office in Marion has Matt Meyerhoff looking into possible grant or loan resources to assist with the repair costs.

“We, the city of Marion continue to encourage efforts for a rapid restoration of the roadway,” he said.

Even though Marion officials talked about concerns associated with the road closing, Holter did validate the county’s decision.

“We are 100 percent supportive of the decision to close the roadway due to safety concerns.”

Hillsboro discusses issue

Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke said. “I think Arts & Crafts Fair and Art in the Park should go together to the meeting regarding the road.

“My question is to ask county commissions who the engineer was that ever drew up the plans for them to pour that concrete apron out there—the one that washed out now?” she said.

Holub said time and money are not on the county’s side, and it will be a long time before the roadway is fixed.

The commissioners met Tuesday to further discuss the closing of 190th Street.

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