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Old train cars find new use
new deh county commission pic
Shown is the stretch of NE 210 Road between NE 30 and NE 40 avenues in north central Barton County that is recommended to become a minimum-maintenance road. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The Barton County Commission Monday morning learned the Road and Bridge Department has a new tool in its toolbox.
Commissioners heard a report from Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips on the use of recycled train tanker cars as replacement culverts in the county. “This is something different Road and Bridge is doing this year,” he said.
The cars, which are sliced in half lengthwise and include welded steel end plates, come from the Stillwater, Okla., recycling company The Railroad Yard, and cost about $9,800. By the time the whole project is done, the pricetag is about $15,000.
This is comparable in price to some pre-cast concrete culvert boxes. However, some of the concrete structures require additional work making them more expensive, Phillips said.
“This is just one option and it may not work in all cases,” he said. A lot depends on the soil corrosiveness and other factors.
But, “it is another toolbox thing for us,” he said. Now, his department can pick from the tank cars, pre-cast concrete or poured concrete.
The half-moon tank cars used so far range in length from 42 to 46 feet and weigh about 20 tons. They require the use of a heavy-duty crane, which is rented locally, to lower them into place on a specially prepared rock bed.
Then, Phillips said, dirt, rock and pilings are placed finish the project. The procedure takes about five days.
The car walls are up to 3/4-inch-thick steel and are rated to handle the weight of any vehicles that would be using the roads. They are anticipated to last as long, if not longer, than those made of concrete.
Phillips said these have been used in surrounding counties, other parts of Kansas and in other states. Barton County waited for them to be tested elsewhere before trying them.
Some of the culverts replaced dated back 70 years. They were crumbling and could have failed at any time, Phillips said.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved a resolution changing a one-mile stretch of NE 210 Road (about six miles northeast of Susank) to minimum maintenance. Union Township officials petitioned for the change since the road is only used occasionally. This would mean the road would be signed “travel at your own risk,” thus reducing the township’s liability. The matter will now go before the Planning and Zoning Commission which meets Thursday. The Barton County Commission will take up issue again Nov. 19.
Also under discussion is the vacating of two roads in the same area.
• Ratified the purchase of an air compressor for $3,500 and an 11-ton pneumatic roller (used on road sealing projects) for $14,000 through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s surplus property liquidation auction for the Road and Bridge Department. A new roller would cost around $50,000. It also OKed the purchase for $2,500 of a 600-gallon trailer-mounted portable fuel tank for the Barton County Landfill through the same auction. The large tank will cut refueling times for the landfill’s machinery which can use up to 100 gallons per day. New, the tank would cost about $8,000. The tank bought still has 200 gallons of usable diesel fuel in it.
• Named Commission Chairman Homer Kruckenberg as the Barton County voting delegate for the Kansas Association of Counties annual conference Nov. 13 in Topeka. Commissioner Don Cates was named first alternate and  commissioner Kenny Schremmer the second alternate.