East Otoe Road Added to One-Year Plan
A crowd of people packed the Box Butte County Commissioners room on Monday at the courthouse as the Box Butte County Commissioners conducted their one- and six-year road hearing.
The hearing started with a presentation from Road Superintendent Barb Keegan, detailing a total of seven projects on the one-year plan and 4 projects on the six-year plan.
Keegan noted several roads are deteriorating with increased amounts of traffic on the roads. The estimated total cost of the proposed projects on the one-year plan was $2,711,700.
Proposed projects on the one-year plan included a CR 70 from the Hemingford corporate limit north to the Dawes County line, which was carried over from the 2018 one-year plan, a stretch of west Otoe Road, and two segments of Nance Road on the west and east ends of Alliance.
Commissioner Doug Hashman said the board is considering an increase in the levy in order to fund the projects.
“We can’t take that all on at one time with our budget; that’s no different than anyone else is,” Hashman said. “So, we’re looking at taking a bond out to do the project, and then we can look at what they call a nickel tax.”
Hashman said the board would be able to add the tax to the budget in order to spread out payments of the project over the course of several years. He said that one way to secure the funds would be to utilize the buy-back funds they receive from the state.
“That assures us a way to secure the note. It just depends on how big of a project we do as to how much we have to allow to make the payment on it,” said Hashman.
He explained the commissioners have inspected the quality of the county’s asphalt roads, noting they have been in a state of decline.
“We’re trying to be proactive and deal with it,” said Hashman describing the way Otoe Road has been broken down due to increased traffic. “The further you let it go, the more it deteriorates, the more it’s going to take to rejuvenate the road.”
Keegan, referencing a sheet provided to those in attendance, explained that heavier vehicles traveling on paved roads can lead the road to fail more quickly.
“The moral of this story is if six inches or seven inches of PCC (Portland Cement Concrete) is going to fail in 12,000 passes with a semi, think of what that’s doing to your native rock. There’s no way your native rock will even hold,” said Keegan.
She emphasized that the county is working hard to get oiled roads built back up before the subgrade begins to fail, citing West 10th Street (west Otoe Road) as an example.
“I do not believe we’ve got a subgrade failure. (…) It can’t last much longer with the cupping that we’ve got already,” Keegan said.
After presenting the projects on the one-year plan, Keegan introduced the proposed projects on the six-year plan, including work on CR 83, which is classified as an arterial road, Banner Road, CR 59 and CR 63.
Following Keegan’s presentation, the commissioners asked for comments or questions from the public.
James Barred, who uses travels on east Otoe Road to reach his residence, asked the commissioners why they did not include east Otoe in the proposal.
“I can’t wrap my head around this,” Barred said. “West Otoe, the last time I went down that, which was a few months ago, is excellent, and you guys keep putting money into west Otoe. What about east Otoe? It’s getting to the point where I’ve got a vehicle with 70,000 miles on it, and I’ve replaced the struts on it twice. You can’t stay on that road if you don’t have a vehicle that’s got brand new shocks or anything like that on it. It’s been patch on top of patch on top of patch.
“You can’t pass anybody without blowing out tires. They’re even down to the point where they’re patching it with gravel instead of asphalt. The patches do absolutely nothing—they disappear within a week. I just want to know why everything’s got to go west where it seems like all the money in the town is, but the east side they don’t seem to care about,” Barred said.
Keegan explained that east Otoe Road was chip sealed, but did not have the records on how many times that portion has been armor coated.
“My thought is, there is a neighborhood out there. There are probably more people living out there than there is out west Otoe. Is there somebody that’s important that lives out west Otoe that makes sure that everything goes out there?” Barred responded.
Craig Seidler echoed Barred’s statement, citing safety concerns as a reason the road needs to be repaired.
“How many people are going to have to get hurt or killed on east Otoe Road before anything is done?” Seidler asked. “I know of at least two or three wrecks last summer where people got hurt. My family’s paid taxes into this county for well over 100 years. I think they deserve better than that.”
Commissioner Susan Lore asked Keegan when the chip seal was completed on east Otoe Road.
“The last armor coat there was from 55 to 5390 Otoe Road, that was in 2016,” Keegan said. “In 2012, we did from 5800 to 5501, which was a little over three miles. Before that we were on west Otoe in 2011. In 2008, we did from 58 to 5650. In 2004, we had from the autogate to CR 58 5.1 miles (to the east).”
After more input from Box Butte County citizens, the commissioners voted to table the resolutions on the one- and six-year road plan until their meeting on Tuesday. The commissioners asked Keegan to add east Otoe Road to the one-year plan and to move four road projects to the six-year plan. The revised one- and six-year road plan will be presented at the board’s meeting on Tuesday.