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Citizens 'fed up to here' with road conditions

Harshman talks rock, roads with commission

Staff writer

Improving county roads was the topic that brought Warren Harshman, president of Harshman Construction, to talk with county commissioners Monday.

The county has purchased most of its rock from Harshman quarries at Florence.

However, Harshman and commissioners discussed not only rock quality, but rock size and road construction techniques.

“I know you’ve been having issues with your roads,” Harshman said.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said the county is getting complaints from people who are “fed up to here” with things like not being able to get out of their driveways.

Novak said she questions why gravel roads lose their base year after year, and referenced a recent report by a Kansas Department of Transportation engineer that noted the rock from Harshman’s quarry is “the softest rock mined in Kansas.”

“I understand there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Novak said. “Some of your rock does not meet KDOT standards.”

Harshman said his company produces different qualities of rock, some used to make cement, and said perhaps the report was based on rock intended for other uses. He suggested the county send a sample of the rock it actually buys for testing.

“We can make any gradations in your rock you want,” Harshman said.

Novak also questioned why the county pays the same price per ton as area farmers, to which Harshman said the company tries to keep prices as competitive as it can and wants to be fair to farmers.

“We’re not being cost effective by paying less on rock that doesn’t last,” commission chairman Kent Becker said.

Becker asked if it is possible to stockpile rock in more strategic locations to reduce money spent hauling rock from the quarry at Florence. Harshman said that could be arranged if the county decides where they’d like it stockpiled.

“The cheap rock is costing us a fortune,” Novak said.

“But don’t blame it all on the rock,” Harshman said.

Novak said the problem with roads is why the county is investigating hiring an engineer.

Becker said the county wants to work cooperatively to improve roads.

Onlooker Carl Stovall said roads are not being properly crowned.

Harshman said road crowning is a part of how well the road holds up over time. He also said a winter as wet as this one means more deterioration of roadbeds.

“If you have road problems, you need to do it right,” Harshman said. “Keep working on that crown.”

In other matters, commissioners:

Discussed whether to have floor heat or radiant heat installed at a new transfer station, voting unanimously for radiant heat to avoid potential problems with a floor heat system.

They also voted to add insulated bay doors at the station.

Approved a contract transferring the Bowron building, 230 E. Main in Marion, to Marion Advancement Campaign, which plans to make repairs and market the building.

Last modified Feb. 7, 2019

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