Reno County Farmers Worried Flood-Damaged Bridges Will Not Be Replaced

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Farmers in Reno County are speaking out as the county assesses bridge damage caused by flooding this summer.

Some of the bridges that have been closed because of flood damage may not bee replaced and producers say that could cost them time and money.

It is a busy time of year for Kansas farmers like Ken McFarland, who is trying to plant wheat as quickly as possible. However, he said, bridge closures like one near his farm on Clark Road about 10 miles west of Hutchinson slow that work down.

"This road is one of the main-traveled roads," McFarland said. "You'd be surprised -- if the bridge weren't out -- how many people would be traveling this road."

Bill Zimmerman, another Reno County Farmer who also serves on the Enterprise Township board, said Reno County has already abandoned several bridges in the area where the bridge on Clark Road will soon be demolished.

Those dead ends combine to force some farmers to drive their equipment miles out of the way in some cases.

"It is an inconvenience for all the area farmers," Zimmerman said. "It's a real burden."

State regulations prevent Reno County from simply repairing old timber bridges like the one on Clark Road. The county has no choice but to close a bridge if engineers determine it could pose a danger to the public, said Reno County Road and Bridge Superintendent Don Brittain.

Road and Bridge Director David McComb said there are 864 bridges for the county to maintain. He said a comprehensive study is being conducted to help county commissioners determine which bridges will be most cost effective to replace.

Zimmerman knows the difficult task and decisions commissioners face. He also knows farmers in his part of Reno County are not the only producers worried about losing bridges.

"I know there's many others, so it's going to take a lot of planning and take a lot of work and effort," he said.

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