For 20 years, residents along County Road 32, also known as the “Calhoun cutoff,” have been waiting for their road to be finished.
Paving of the initial 2.5 miles began in 1999. But since then, funding has repeatedly been an issue for the remaining 3.2 miles.
An initial total cost for completing the road from state Highway 133 to County Road P35 has been estimated between $4 million and $7 million. The high cost included moving utilities and regrading of the road.
On April 19, the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards approved the county's request seeking relaxation of the design standards to the vertical alignment to reduce or eliminate the utility relocation costs. That decision could save the county approximately $1.8 million, according to Highway Superintendent Bill Hansel.
Now, it's time for the county to move forward.
This road could be an avenue for growth for the county. Housing developments already in place could see more people building houses and moving in, which would only increase the tax base.
There is also a matter of safety.
Drivers have complained about the condition of the gravel road, which can become washed out and slick following heavy rains. Dust causes an issue with visibility, which could lead to accidents not just on the road but also the highway if a driver becomes disoriented.
This road is a also main thoroughfare through southern Washington County. It connects Fort Calhoun to Highway 133. Rescue personnel use this road while responding to accidents, fires and medical issues.
Though funding has been an issue for many years, the longer the county waits, the more likely it will increase the cost. Since 2012, cost estimates for the project have more than doubled.
Yes, it's expensive, but it is needed. How much will it cost if another 20 years goes by?