Months of stress and frustrations boiled over Tuesday at the Washington County Board of Supervisors meeting as residents who live along County Line Road — a road destroyed by the March flood — voiced their disapproval on the lack of work that has been completed to repair the road.
The board authorized Chairman Steve Dethlefs, District 1-Fort Calhoun, to sign a contract with Speece Lewis Engineers of Lincoln to survey and draft plans for the road, which is located south of state Highway 91 near Nickerson. The cost is $21,650.
Residents Steve Harshman and Don Heuerman, who were expecting the board to award the project to a contractor, questioned the county's process.
Harshman, whose house sits at 1585 County Line Road, claimed someone at the Washington County Roads Department told both he and Heuerman the bids would be opened at the meeting.
However, Highway Superintendent Bill Hansel said Harshman had not received that information from him.
Harshman said he had been in constant contact with the roads department and had received numerous explanations as to why repairs were not being made.
“We have had this conversation for five months. Five months,” he said.
Both Harshman and Heuerman said their homes are livable, but without a road, they can't gain access.
“This bidding process could have been put out in April or May and they could be doing it,” Harshman said.
“I don't dispute that sir,” Dethlefs said. “Here is where we're at right now. We're trying to expedite it as much as we can at this point.”
Harshman asked if the county could give a timeframe of when he could expect work to be completed.
Hansel said Speece Lewis had already started the design. Once the contract is signed, they can finish the design, the project can be advertised for three weeks and bids will be accepted.
But once bids are let, Dethlefs said, the county is at the mercy of the contractor.
“I understand that,” Harshman said. “We've been at the mercy of this whole thing for five months. Massive amount of stress and expense for both of us with livable homes that we can't go home to.”
Worst case scenario, Hansel said, it could be spring before the road is finished.
“Washington County has a responsibility in their agreement with Dodge County to maintain that road,” Harshman said. “That doesn't mean we get to it in a year or so.”
“We're moving forward,” Dethlefs said. “I can't do anything more to speed it up for you. There is nothing the board can do to speed it up.”
Heuerman, whose house is at 1555 County Line Road, said he thinks the county could have completed the work itself.
“I've filled bigger holes out there with a quad and that little tractor than it will take to fix that road,” he said. “It seems to me that you guys with your bigger equipment could access things and could have had that road fixed a long time ago. I'd appreciate if you could get it done.”
Work on County Line Road was delayed until repairs on Highway 91, which was also severely damaged, were completed.
During the July 23 meeting, Hansel told the board he initially thought his crews could complete the work. However, he estimated the project would take 2 1/2 to 3 months, utilizing most of the county's resources.
Instead, Hansel opted to seek requests for proposal from engineering firms to design the project.