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MoDOT likely to sell road shed to county due to high cleanup costs
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 27, 2009) — Road workers in Pulaski County’s western district have a good chance to get a better place to work, Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall said at Monday morning’s county commission meeting.

While eastern district county road crews have a relatively up-to-date road shed, western district crews have a shed with a dirt floor that turns to mud when rain hits the area and is located on land owned by the BNSF railroad, not Pulaski County. Western district road crews have been eying a state-owned road shed in Swedeborg ever since the state road shed consolidated with the St. Robert shed.

A key factor, Ransdall said, is that the Missouri Department of Transportation may have few other options to get dispose of its Swedeborg road shed. State road workers have asked to be allowed to store some road material such as salt and gravel at the Swedeborg site and use its bathrooms if the county takes over the road shed, but Ransdall reminded MoDOT district engineer Tom Stehn last week that the state would be liable for hazardous material cleanup if it sold the road shed to a housing developer or for most other purposes except being a road shed for another governmental unit.

“That was his ‘get out of jail free’ card. When I hit him with it, he knew what I was doing,” Ransdall said. “I think it’s cradle to grave. You cause it, you clean it up.”

Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham agreed, noting that an area gas station cost about $750,000 to clean up after the property was sold. Farnham said he’s sure Stehn is aware of the problem.

“He knows what the superfund is for,” Farnham said. “One stipulation is we can only work directly with the county as long as the building will be used for the maintenance of the county right-of-ways.”

“That’s why the guy from the state wanted to make sure it stayed the way it is,” said Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink, whose road workers would receive the most direct benefit from moving to the Swedeborg shed.

Zweerink said state workers have been working diligently to prepare the Swedeborg shed for a possible transfer.

“They were like ants last week, they were moving everything out,” Zweerink said.

Other MoDOT funding options may not be as likely. Farnham said it doesn’t appear that the county will be able to benefit from a proposed 50-50 cost share to repair Cave Road, which connects Highway O running south of Dixon to Highway Y running north of St. Robert where they meet at the Riddle Bridge.

“They are just too financially strapped,” Farnham said.

In other business:

• Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko came to the county commissioners and said they’ll eventually have to buy narrow-band radios for their road crews to be able to communicate with emergency personnel.

Yurecko cautioned that county workers probably can spend $300 for narrow-band radios rather than the much more expensive P-25 digital radios for $2,000.

“If you’re using grant money you have to look at digital radios, but the quality is not there yet,” Yurecko said.

Grant money may be available, however.

“If I need a backhoe, the first person I’m going to call is you. You can certainly make the argument that road and bridge is an emergency service,” Yurecko said, noting that during a major problem this winter with ice and snow on Laramie Road that impeded fire tanker support, it wasn’t possible to communicate between firefighters and road and bridge department crews.

• Responding to questions from Ransdall, Farnham said progress continues on Federal Emergency Management Agency road repair projects that have been backlogged since an ice storm and flood in early 2008, and said the work will probably be done sometime in May.

“I would say it’s probably about 80 percent done. They knocked out quite a bit on some good weather days,” Farnham said. “We’ve been pushing as hard as we could.”

“I was just trying to see where our money was at,” Ransdall said.

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