By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County, city approve Railroad Ave. work
Project is a joint county-city effort
railroad ave pic
Shown is an aerial view of the stretch of Railroad Avenue subject to an agreement between the Barton County and the City of Great Bend and Barton County approved by the County Commission and City Council Monday. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Praising the long-time joint arrangement that dates back nearly 60 years, both the Barton County Commission and the Great Bend City Council Monday approved a cost-share agreement for work on Railroad Avenue. The commission gave its nod Monday morning and it was approved by the council Monday night.

“There’s a stretch that has gotten pretty rough,” County Engineer Barry McManaman told commissioners Monday morning, adding he was attending the council meeting in the evening. The total project length is 2,413 feet, stretching from South Washington Avenue eastward to just over 400 feet from U.S. 281.

Under the deal:

• The Barton County portion is 82.4% of the total project length. The length of the Barton County portion is 1,989 feet.

• The City of Great Bend portion is 17.6% of the total project length. The length of the City of Great Bend portion is 424 feet.

Now, the county will begin the bidding process for the resurfacing project. It is estimated to cost between $140,000-$170,000.

McManaman said in 2012 the county placed a three-inch hot-mix overlay on the road and the city paid its share of 29.7%, using the same breakdown of costs that was established in 1960. The city originally designed and constructed the road and the county paid of 70.3% of the work cost.

However, a couple of years ago, the city had a Kansas Department of Transportation project to construct the new concrete pavement that extends west from Main Street a few hundred feet, reducing the city’s portion to 17.6% this year since that section is not included now.

So, a new formula was needed, McManaman said. The county and city met to discuss the work, including a meeting between McManaman and City Administrator Kendal Francis. 

The new project will include milling the old three-inch overlay off (down to bare concrete), adding a two-foot hot mix asphalt to widen both sides of the road so vehicles won’t drop off the edge as occurs now. This shoulder will consist of five inches of asphalt with the overall layer of three inches on top of that.

Next, a new three-inch hot mix asphalt overlay on the entire road, expanding it from 22 feet to 26 feet. Also, it will match up with the existing concrete curb line.

“It’s always good when the city and the county can work together,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said.  

“This is a good deal for the city,” City Administrator Kendal Francis said Monday night.

The future

There was some discussion of the long-term future of Railroad Avenue, which has become a de facto bypass around southern Great Bend that sees a lot of heavy truck traffic. 

Commissioner Jim Daily brought up the total reconstruction of the road to include curbs, gutters, a regular crown and better drainage. “It would be worth the money to do it in the near future.”

Money is the operative word, McManaman said. He estimated the cost to do this at over $1 million and that several years ago, the city had looked into this but shelved the idea due to the price.

Currently, the stretch is constructed with an “inverted crown,” McManaman said. This means both sides slope to the center, opposed to a regular road crown which is higher in the middle.

Water currently drains to the center and flows off southward to the Arkansas River. This is slow and the pooling water causes motorists to drive as close to the edge as possible, and with it being so narrow now.

These drivers’s tires drop of the side and chew up the asphalt. This and the standing water create potholes and other cracks.

“This road needs to be addressed now,” McManaman said. But, down the road, a more complete reconstruction will be needed and should probably be considered in long-range planning and budgeting.

This total rebuilding should include installing the regular crown, curbs and gutters, McManaman said. Better drainage also needs to be examined.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance:

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved an amendment to the county zoning regulations.

• Approved a cost-share agreement with the City of Great Bend for work on Railroad Avenue.

• Following the regular meeting in the morning and into the afternoon, the commission listened to 2020 budget requests. Presentations included:

1. Southwest Developmental Services Inc.

2. Sheriff’s Office, Adult and Juvenile Detention

3, Treasurer’s Office

4. RSVP of Central Kansas

5. Engineering and County Works

6. 911 

7. Barton County Fair Board