County to mull paving road near new grain elevator




An $8 million grain elevator project under construction on Craft Road about a dozen miles south of Garden City could put up to 6,000 trucks per year on the gravel road, but the Finney County Commission decided Monday to hold off on a paving request until next year.

John McClelland, general manager of the Garden City Co-op, asked the county commission to consider putting down 2,640 feet of asphalt blacktop on Craft Road from U.S. Highway 83 east to the project site to accommodate increased truck traffic expected from the co-op's new grain elevator, which is expected to be operational by fall harvest.

"It's dangerous to estimate what grain production might be in Finney County. This grain elevator isn't going to create any new bushels, but it's going to concentrate a lot of traffic," McClelland said.

McClelland said the elevator will have enough capacity for 2 million bushels of grain and could be expanded to hold up to 3 million bushels. Moving 2 million bushels in and out of the facility would mean 4,000 to 6,000 trucks per year on Craft Road.

"The problem with that is harvest doesn't happen equally every day throughout the year. We're assuming we'll have somewhere around eight weeks of inbound traffic, and the same amount of outbound traffic. That gives us on average 50 to 75 trucks per day in and out of that facility," he said.

And when harvest is in full swing, it wouldn't be out of the question to expect 150 trucks per day on certain days, McClellan said.

The co-op also is planning to build a $2 million to $4 million agronomy center on land to the east of the elevator within the next year to five years that also could add to traffic congestion.

McClelland said the co-op has adjusted its plan for staging how trucks enter and exit the facility to try and minimize congestion, but it still will be a very busy road.

To pave the entire half-mile was estimated to cost about $170,000, or McClelland suggested it would cost about $100,000 to pave the first 1,200 feet up to the property's first driveway.

The county already had planned to improve the road before Monday's paving request. The county will raise and widen the road from 22 feet currently to 26 feet, but it would remain a gravel road. Dirt work on that project is scheduled to begin next week, according to public works director John Ellermann.

Commissioners favored waiting a year before talking about the paving request. By then, the widened roadbed should be well compacted.

"I think we would be much better off getting a good base under that thing," Commissioner Cliff Mayo said. "During the year, it will get packed down and we could put blacktop on it. I'd hate to spend that kind of money and all of a sudden it starts bellying out."

McClelland did not oppose the delay, saying the co-op has many elevators located on gravel roads, though most of them won't handle the volume of the new elevator. He said he only wanted to make the commission aware of the situation.

"We don't think by having a good road you're going to increase the number of bushels we're going to handle. We're just concerned about public safety," he said. "I know very little about building roads, so if the best thing to do is to get through a harvest and try to do it next year, that's really up to you."

In other business Monday:

* Commissioners heard a status report concerning HorseThief Reservoir. As water levels continue to decline, boat use could be restricted at some point this year due to safety concerns, according to Jim Hewes, HorseThief Reservoir board member. Hewes told the commission sand bars are beginning to show up in some areas because of dropping water levels, but the board is taking a wait-and-see approach before triggering restrictions.

* Commissioners authorized Emergency Medical Services to purchase new laryngoscope equipment for a total of $6,512. The equipment will be used in new intubation techniques that allow full views of the airway and anatomical structures in the throat, allowing responders a better view with less risk of complications to the airway.

* Commissioners approved the recommendations of the Alcohol Fund Advisory Committee for distributing alcohol tax funds to various Garden City and Finney County agencies' substance abuse prevention programs.

A total of $92,000 is being distributed to nine agencies. Garden City budgeted $78,000 while the county budgeted $14,000. The recommendations are also on today's city commission agenda for approval.

The agencies recommended to receive the funds are: 25th Judicial District Community Corrections, $13,000; 25th Judicial District Youth Services, $20,000; Area Mental Health Center, $10,800; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties, $20,000; City on a Hill, $3,000; Garden City Family YMCA, $5,000; Real Men Real Leaders, $2,400; Salvation Army, $7,800; Spirit of the Plains, CASA Inc., $10,000.

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