WAHOO – When the Saunders County Board of Supervisors asked Highway Superintendent Steve Mika which road project would qualify for financing from the Inheritance Fund, Mika said County Road 11 would be the best candidate.
The road has been on the county’s One and Six Year Plan for Highway Improvements for a few years now, and due to its high quantity of traffic, Mika said paving the gravel road is something of necessity to the county.
“Safety is a big concern,” Mika said. “A large amount of the traffic on that road is truck traffic.”
The 13-mile project will run from the Saunders County line north to Highway 92 near Mead. The initial phase will involve grading and structure work from the county line north to Highway 66, also known as County Road G. The Inheritance Fund will help finance this phase.
According to Mika, they are moving forward quickly with the project. Once they are able to submit the core permits, the contractors will begin surveying the roads and different structures in regards to the grades. Once the survey is complete, they’ll start to flatten out the roads and then work on the different structures to meet the requirements for paving.
Once the grading and structure is complete, Mika said they can put gravel back on it as the county can saves up the funds needed to pave the road. Fully completing the project will be dependent on funds because paving the road will be the most expensive part.
“I’d like to keep the project moving,” Mika said. “Once we start paving, I’d rather they get the whole stretch of it done at once. I hate to just do one or two miles here and wait a year and another two miles here. I›d like to do the whole thing to get a better product.”
After speaking with a consultant from Mainelli Wagner and Associates Inc. out of Lincoln, Mika estimates the six-mile initial phase will need somewhere from a $1 to 1.5 million. Mika hopes to receive $1 million from the Inheritance Fund. The entirety of the project would be an estimated $4.5 million, Mika said. It all depends on the bids made by the contractors.
According to County Board Chairperson Doris Karloff, the plan is to connect the roadway to Lancaster County’s portion of the road, named North 162 Street, so that County Road 11 – which becomes Highway 77 at the Highway 92 conjunction – can be paved all the way to the county line near Fremont.
Mika said that Lancaster County has been talking about paving its portion of the road for a few years now.
The inheritance fund comes from the taxation of inheritance money in Saunders County. This year, the board has a surplus which is why they are choosing to transfer a portion of it to the County Road 11 project based on Mika’s recommendation. Last year, the board chose to put the money toward the courthouse updates.
“We like to take Steve’s recommendations and what he’s working toward,” Karloff said.
According to Karloff, they want to maintain $1.5 million in the fund in case of emergencies. An example of an emergency in which the board utilized this money was during the March 2019 floods.
Mika also mentioned that the road experiences quite a bit of flooding and while paving it won’t prevent the flooding, it will lead to fewer repairs in the future.
“These are projects that you know a lot of people look at and say, ‘wow you know we don›t need this,’” Mika said. “But after it›s all said and done, it›s a big improvement. It›s a big help. I mean, there›s probably arguments on both sides, but I think of all the roads that need to be paved in the county this is the absolute No. 1.”
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