A bus driver for Prairie View USD 362 complained to the Linn County Commission on Tuesday that roads in the Centerville area were dangerous because of road conditions and lack of striping. (Wix file photo)
By Charlene Sims, firstname.lastname@example.org
MOUND CITY – Residents from the west side of Linn County expressed their concerns to the county commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Two of the residents were concerned about the safety of public roads due to lack of striping and bumpy road conditions.
Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked that people who have a complaint about roads go to the county website at the bottom where it says “report a road problem” and fill out the form. McCullough said filling out the form added accountability and helped the county to make sure that it was being handled.
Centerville resident Brenda Conner had a list of concerns for the commissioners starting with the roads and bridges on the west side. Conner is a bus driver with Prairie View USD 362 and drives the roads daily during the school year.
Conner told the commissioners that she came to the commission meeting two years ago and asked that the road conditions on two bridges on 1700 Road be inspected. Nothing has been done about those conditions since then, she added.
Conner said that when the buses went over the two bridges on both ends, the buses bang on the bumps, which is very uncomfortable for the passengers.
“We have a handicapped bus that runs that road, and the little boy who is unable to move, and they have to cross his arms over his body in his wheelchair,” she said. “When they hit that bridge, his hands fall off and because the road is so rough, the aide cannot get up to put them back until they get over the other side. And then they go down the road another two miles and the same thing happens on the next bridge.”
“If this was your child, you wouldn’t like that, and I can’t understand how come it hasn’t been fixed,” stated Conner.
She also said that a hole in a bridge in Centerville had started with a small hole but keeps getting bigger and bigger. She questioned why that could not have been patched when it first started.
Conner said, “We have some (tractor trailers) coming in constantly to go to Aust’s feed lot. Centerville is usually pretty quiet but in the mornings there will be like six semis lined up on Market Street waiting to go out there. When they load and come back, it bangs when they go across that bridge. It’s got to be hurting that bridge.”
“Why can’t somebody bring something up there and patch that hole?” asked Conner.
Commissioner Jim Johnson asked Conner, “Have you talked to Shaun about this?”
Conner said that the times that she had called or come into the office he was out.
Conner continued expressing concerns about the fog lines on the blacktop. She said that the county had blacktopped the road and it was like a super highway then the county put down that “stupid chip and seal,” which was so dirty you couldn’t see because of the dust. But that covered up the striping so that a driver can only see the center line for a little way.
“But you have all these same guys (truck drivers going to Aust’s) that are not local to the area and you have new drivers, and they come down the middle of the road and it is like that,” she said. “They come from Anderson County and into Centerville.
“That road is not marked and 1077 is not marked. And I pick up kids at 6:30 in the morning. It’s dark and I have to go and meet like three trucks at a time coming in with cows and they are right in the middle of the road. They don’t know where the edges are because it is dark. Can’t you put something on the roads?”
“We pay taxes and we don’t get anything for it,” she said. “I know paint is not cheap but we are talking about lives here.”
Conner also told the commissioners about the washboard condition of 1600 Road over by the Anderson County line. She told the commissioners that her bus cost $130,000 but had to be taken in frequently to have screws replaced because of the rough roads.
Conner added one more concern to her presentation and it was about ambulance service on the west side of the county. Conner said that she had a friend who lives six minutes from Centerville. However, when she fell it took an ambulance 30 to 45 minutes to get there.
“I know they have to come from this side of the county (east side), all we have on that side of the county is the EMT,” said Conner. “But, most of your population is on the east side but this side over here (west side) pays taxes too. They deserve to get help faster than 30 to 45 minutes. So is there a way you can take and move the one from La Cygne over?”
Before Conner spoke, Mack Carlisle of rural Blue Mound had expressed his concerns about the roads without striping being dangerous.
Carlisle told the commissioners that he knew that the commissioners have discussed many times about striping the blacktop roads.
He specifically spoke about County Road 568 from K-7 Highway to Blue Mound. He said that the county had graciously striped that road several years and that it had worked because people stayed on their side of the road.
He told the commissioners that he thought it was a wonderful idea when the county collaborated with landowners to clean out corners of blind intersections to make the roads safer.
“I see road stripes in much the same way,” said Carlisle. “Your governing body is certainly not at fault in any of these issues but you are probably the only ones who can make a difference.”
“I dodged a stake bed truck the other day just west of our residence on the hill,” said Carlisle. “It was driving in dead center at a pretty high rate of speed. I managed to avoid the ditch.
“At first, I didn’t dwell on it much but I couldn’t stop thinking about what if that had been somebody with little experience or whose reaction time was impeded with age, something we will all face.”
“That thought got stuck in my head,” said Carlisle. “When they stray out of their lanes, disaster and sometimes tragedy can occur.”
Carlisle said that his thought would be that, “When you start something that involves public safety and then stop doing that, that’s not probably wise.”
The commissioners then held discussion with Public Works Director Shaun West about the process of chip and sealing roads and striping.
Commissioner Jim Johnson asked West how much it cost to chip and seal a mile of road and also whether striping could be applied to a chip and seal road.
West replied that he would check on the price of the county chip and sealing a road. West also explained that it was the chip and seal job on County Road 1077 that could not be striped because of the inferiority of the chip and seal materials that were used.
Rural Centerville resident Fred Kautt then spoke to the commissioners. Kautt reminded the commissioners that he used to come to all the commission meetings and used to speak sometimes.
Kautt said that one thing that everyone needed to remember was that most of the public comment today was from Commission District 3. He said that one of his statements (which the commissioners then did not find humorous) years ago was that for years the people on the west side of Kansas Highway 7 were considered to be part of Anderson County, which they are not.
Kautt said he wanted to thank the commissioners for listening to all of the complaints, but he added that some action on those issues would be greatly appreciated.