It’s way too wet for county road crews to get out and mow, and that’s not likely to change with rain in the forecast through Friday, according to Bill Ring, director of public works for Ellis County.
No roads are closed, but they are washed out and rutted up.
“We’re doing everything we can and everybody is doing as much as they can,” Ring told the Ellis County Commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday evening in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.
Supervisors are driving the roads in the morning to find the worst of the worst, he said.
“If it’s dry enough they’ll find a blade and bring in some dry material, that’s why you’ll see the ridge lines on the side of the road, and they’ll try to bring that over,” Ring explained after the meeting. “But if a road is just a mud puddle, there’s really nothing we can do until the sun can dry it out.”
Ring recorded more than two inches of rain at his own home by Sunday night at the intersection of Feedlot Road and 170th Ave. two miles west of Yocemento on the north side of Interstate 70.
With so much heavy running water in recent days, the surface of some roads has been washed out.
“Then we haul truckloads of rock in,” Ring said. “We have to add rock back into the road, and blade it and work it back in.”
Ellis County has 1,400 miles of county road, and only 140 miles of that, or 10 percent, are asphalt, he said. The majority of the rest is chalk or rock, with very few miles of dirt road. There are about 100 rock and chalk pits around the county where the county buys rock from farmers.
The response to the heavy rains means the county will be behind on maintenance work, he said.
Gov. Jeff Colyer has issued a disaster declaration for some counties in response to flooding in Kansas, not including Ellis County. The threshold for such a declaration in Ellis County would be about $104,000, Ring said, indicating to the commissioners that he would research the cost to the county so far to see if Ellis County qualifies. Costs include paving rock, damaged culverts, crew overtime and more.
From 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday, Ellis County received nearly two inches of rain, and in some places more, according to the National Weather Service.
“They’re saying it’s supposed to taper off, so hopefully we’ll have less, not like the gully washer we had over the weekend,” Ring said. “Sunday afternoon I had two inches in two hours.”
Pulling up a picture on his phone. Ring showed the flooded chalk road by his house, with trash in knee-high water.
“That’s debris. It peeled the fences. That’s all farm fence posts, barbed wire, weeds, hay … So I put my boots on and got my pitchfork and my fence pliers and I cut all the stuff apart and dragged it to the side of the road,” he said. “And our crews when they go clean up, they’ll pick up the junk.”
In other county business, the county commissioners accepted the bid of Marvin Planning Consultants, David City, Nebr., to update the County Comprehensive Plan for $53,200.
The process should take approximately nine to 15 months.
The County Comprehensive Plan was originally adopted in November 2012. An extensive review of zoning regulations by the Planning Commission in 2016 and 2017 revealed that many regulations appear in conflict with the comprehensive plan.
Marvin Planning Consultants will review the county’s plan and make revisions to reconcile it with regulations. It will also develop a plan for future growth, said Karen Purvis, environmental sanitarian and zoning administrator for Ellis County.