The Leavenworth County Commission Monday heard from its director of public works about the need to overhaul some of its road standards.
However, according to Mike Spickelmier, that overhaul is not likely to arrive in the near future, due in part to other projects that the department already has on its plate.
The discussion arose from the commission’s consideration of the minutes from its last meeting, during which they discussed the possibility of public works building a gravel road for a county subdivision, provided that the developers pay the material and engineering costs. Spickelmier said that sort of arrangement is permitted under the county’s policy on local service roads, which provides a process to surface roads in the county that have been existence for a specified period of time but have fallen out of compliance with county standards. After fielding questions on why the policy allowed in this case a developer to construct a gravel road instead of a chip-sealed road, Spickelmier said it was likely because of the small number of homes to be located there, but also used the topic as a segue.
“We definitely feel like we need to update our standards,” he said.
The department has plenty of ideas to improve the road standards. But Spickelmier said time is the main barrier — the department is currently focusing a lot of its efforts on the newly expanded participatory road program.
“You’re talking a couple hundred page document to just go through and comb through and clean up and modernize,” he said. “We just don’t have the ability to dedicate two months of staff time specifically to this task.”
Commission Chairman John Flower asked if the department could hire a consultant to do that same review. Spickelmier said yes, though probably not cost-effectively.
“You’re going to pay twice as much money for what you need,” he said.
In the meantime, Spickelmier said he does not believe that updating those standards is critical right now.
“If we saw the economy start to heat up like it did in the middle of the last decade, yeah, we would want to make sure that we had our regulations prepared to meet those needs,” he said, adding that if the department sees a need to undertake that work, they will come forward.