In an effort to make rural roads safer, the Barton County Commission Monday approved entering into a three-way agreement to improve three blacktops in the north and west of the county.
The deal joins Barton County, Kansas Department of Transportation and the consulting firm Transystems out of Kansas City, Mo., in a project to develop a plan to rework bridges and culverts between Galatia and Beaver, the Odin Road and Boyd Road as it extends west from U.S. 281. It is part of the federal High Risk Rural Roads Program.
Ultimately, the program will fund improvements to the structures located on the three corridors. The agreement approved Monday is for the data collecting in Phase I of the three-phase initiative.
County Engineer Clark Rusco told commissioners he had applied for a High Risk Rural Roads grant through KDOT for four roads, but received funding for only three. It is a 90/10 matching grant for the $35,000 Phase I, with the county having to pay only $3,500.
“This is road safety analysis,” Rusco said. Transystems will study the roadways, determine the most effective new safety measures, if any, and prioritize them.
Vehicles leaving the roadway are the most common types of accidents on these blacktops, many of which are too narrow for today’s traffic, Rusco said. These vehicles often hit bridges and culverts which may need to be modified to make them safer.
Phase II, which was not a part of the decision made this week, will be the design and construction. Transystems will come up the plans and submit them to KDOT which will make the final determination and let the bids for the work.
Rusco said Barton County may have to pay the entire cost of construction, but there will be 90/10 matching funds for the design. The state will also reimburse the county for 90 percent of the inspection costs in Phase III.
However, that is a year or two down the road. KDOT should let the bids in November 2013 with construction starting in the spring of 2014.
According to KDOT, rural roads are the scenes for 45 percent of fatal and severe injury crashes. The most commonly struck rural fixed objects are, in order of frequency, ditches, trees, and utility devices.
These local roads also account for 92 percent of highways in Kansas and carry 52 percent of the traffic.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Approved an agreement with the City of Claflin to assistance with road improvements. Plans have been developed for the county to provide sealing of 20 blocks of streets. As an independent contractor, the county would receive a maximum of $6,000 for labor and equipment. The city is paying for the labor and providing the materials.
• Approved the 20th Judicial District’s Juvenile Justice Authority’s applying for a state grant. The Legislature appropriated an additional $700,000 for state fiscal year 2013 to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority. This resulted in an additional $13,180 for the 20th Judicial District. The Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board recommends that the funds be used to provide for salaries, training expenses and books and other materials for the Journey to Change program. The application will now be forwarded to JJA for further review.
Although the county provides facilities for local JJA office, its funding comes through the Kansas Department of Corrections.
• Approved a revised budget for the Central Kansas Community Corrections. The Kansas Community Corrections Act provides grants to Kansas Counties to develop and maintain a range of programs for adult offenders assigned to Community Corrections agencies. A grant application was submitted that set the goals for FY2013. The allocation determined by the KDOC was more than what was requested from the agency and required approval of the revised budget.
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