Funding not meeting road construction needs
The good news for Hesper Heights residents is that the cost to maintain their nearby paved roads won’t go up.
The bad news is that the quality of roads could go down.
In 2004, a road improvement district was formed that encompassed 42 property owners in the Hesper Heights area southeast of Eudora. At that time, the residents agreed to pay for the cost of paving and maintaining sections of North 1100, East 2300 and North 1137 roads.
At the Douglas County Commission meeting Wednesday night, Keith Browning, county engineer and director of public works, told commissioners that in the past several years the amount of money needed to maintain the roads has outpaced what the road improvement district has collected.
For example, last year the district brought in around $29,000 plus an additional $19,000 contribution from the local township. But the actual maintenance cost was at $59,700.
To keep pace with those maintenance expenses and to chip seal the road in the near future as intended, it would cost an extra $446 a year per property owner. That’s on top of the $242 the property owners are already paying.
Property owner Rochelle Beatty told the commissioners that she and other neighbors could have stomached paying around $400 a year, but not $688.
“We weren’t for keeping it flat, but we weren’t for getting gouged,” she said.
The amount the district pays could be kept even, Browning said, if the county used thinner layers of asphalt to fix problem areas on the road and focus on the worst potholes.
“What we will endeavor to do is to keep the road safe,” Browning said. “But it won’t allow for enough to patch every area that is starting to deteriorate.”
The county commissioners unanimously agreed to keep the property owners’ contributions level for this year. The commission also agreed to look at a resolution that would keep heavy trucks off the roads within the district.
Neighbors told commissioners that semitrailers used East 2300 Road as a shortcut from K-10 to the I-35 entrance near Wellsville. The roads also see frequent traffic from trucks traveling to a nearby rock quarry.
Under the proposed resolution, heavy vehicles that need to service properties within the road improvement district or are used for agricultural purposes would still be allowed on the roads.
Browning said limiting heavy-truck use “would go a long way” to extend the life of the road.