Billowing dust, chuck holes on every corner, slash-and-gash boulders rolling from the high center crown to steep-edged ditches, and washboards of every shape and size strategically aligned so that any driver who dares venture aboard must stay on high alert … it sounds like an expedition of Land Rover on the face of the moon, but it really is the reality that awaits drivers coming and going on the west side of the city of Goessel.
One mile of 120th, from Alamo or State Street on the west edge of town to the McPherson County line, is the responsibility of Marion County to maintain, but patrons of the road are sick of traversing the disastrous road.
“I have to drive that road at least three or four times every week. It is the worst road ever, but I don’t have a choice,” Ben Schmidt of Goessel said. “Those big rocks they put on there are like driving on ice, very damaging to vehicles, chipping paint off, cracking windshields, and causing numerous flat tires.”
The mile in question used to be paved but was ripped up almost two years ago, in anticipation of resurfacing by the county. It lies between smooth sailing on a paved McPherson County road, and the city of Goessel’s Main Street, also paved.
“I have to warn anybody coming to town about it,” Schmidt said. “It is a major disaster in the making, because if people are not aware of the road, they could lose control in an instant when they hit Marion County. It is really bad.”
Warren and Sheri Schmidt, rural Goessel, also worry about disaster striking drivers on 120th west of Goessel.
“We have two teenage boys attending school at Goessel and they have to get down that road every day,” Sheri Schmidt said. “I tell them to go really, really slow, but even that is dangerous because there is so much dust billowing up, you can’t tell who is coming from where until they are right upon you.”
Adding to the concern is the fact that the road is narrow with no shoulders and ditches that drop off steeply into three-to-six-feet ravines in some places. Since the pavement was removed from the road, county Road and Bridge crews occasionally layer on thick piles of large-size rock to build the base of the road for future work.
In addition to flat tires caused by sharp-edged rocks, Warren Schmidt said he had to replace two sets of brake pads on his family vehicle in just the past few months.
“My mechanic told me it was because of the rocks and dust we were driving on,” he said. “With a road as heavily traveled as this one mile is, you would think there would be a better plan to get it fixed. It is truly a disaster waiting to happen. I just hope someone doesn’t lose their life on it.”
Marion County Commissioner Randy Dallke, whose district includes Goessel, said 120th is scheduled to be chip-sealed this summer. The county has purchased the aggregate for the project and has it stockpiled near Goessel.
Dallke said 120th was an example of the many roads in the county that needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.
“Hopefully we can get on a schedule where if we tear a road up, scheduled to put it back in two years, we do it on time,” he said.