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County accepts federal money to improve high-risk roads

Action taken by the Barton County Commission on Monday could make it easier to win competitive grants for road safety features, County Engineer Barry McManaman said.
The commission approved a contract to TransSystems Corporation and paid its share of the cost, $5,106, which is just 2.5 percent of the total. Ninety percent of the cost comes from federal funds, and the remaining 10 percent is shared by four counties: Barton, Stafford, McPherson and Butler.
McManaman explained that last January, the county commission signed an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for a Local Road Safety Plan. The plan identifies potential safety improvements on county roads so a priority list can be developed. KDOT accepted the bids for the projects that will involve the four counties.
TransSystems will look for features that cause crashes throughout the state, such as sharp turns, limited sight distance or pavement drop-offs. This will eliminate the time it takes to complete a needs study of a problem area when competing for a grant.
“It will kind of give us a leg up on future high-risk rural roads funding,” McManaman said.
Commissioner Alicia Straub voiced support for the allocation. “It’s important to bring some of those federal dollars back to the state,” she said.

Other business
In other business Monday, the commissioners learned that newly elected township trustees must be bonded; were told Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington is available to talk about the splash pad and band shell improvements planned in the courthouse square, which is a city park; and paid a bill for about $4,100 for legal services from the law firm of Watkins Calcara. Among other things, attorney Allen Glendenning reviewed an agreement for a possible Barton-Ellis County Extension district and negotiated the buyout of County Administrator Richard Boeckman’s contract when he resigned last month. It was noted that Boeckman also served as the county’s legal counsel, a position that needs to be filled even if the county doesn’t hire another administrator.