Flood repairs underway on Kansas roads and bridges

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“It could have been worse,” said Lucas Goff Monday, looking at the damage on one Cowley County road.  Flooding last week damaged several roads throughout the county.

Road crews began this week cleaning up.  They had to remove flood debris from the roads, sometimes entire trees, as well as damaged pieces of the roads.

“This is one of our bigger damages,” Goff said looking at a three mile section of what is commonly called Cowley 2.  “We had some roads that are paved roads that had a lot of debris put through.”

Goff also brought in MKEC Engineering to inspect some of the bridges for flood damage, like the East Chestnut bridge which he worries they may not be able to re-open.

“You know there’s some large tree limbs, or large trees coming down the river and if it hits a bridge just right it could have a major effect,” said Jay Anglemyer with MKEC Engineering.

At East Chestnut bridge, the road damage goes right up to the beginning of the bridge.

“We don’t fix or design these styles of bridges anymore, so, that complicates the process,” Anglemyer said.

Another complication is the loss of a major portion of the riverbank leading up to the bridge.

Once roads are cleared and bridges secured, many will still need heavy repairs, even the dirt and gravel roads, Goff said.

“They have this, what they call geo grid,” Goff said, pointing to what looks like a giant kind of chicken wire laying across the road.  “They place that down. Then they have to build the road back into it.  So it’s not just throw some gravel on it, grate it and walk away.”

That base layer is some 12 inches underneath the top of the road.

Goff says Cowley County, like many in Kansas, has a special savings account to pay for fixing damage like this.  But, they hope to get some of that money back through state or federal aid in the long term.

He adds, it could take days, maybe a week or two, to make basic repairs to all the damaged roads and get them back open.  In the meantime, he asks drivers to have patience.

“If there’s still water on the road, don’t pass it,” Goff said.  “If the road’s closed or blocked, don’t pass it.”