Apr 02, 2024

County seeking grant for Buhler Road bridge

Posted Apr 02, 2024 10:15 AM
Reno County Public Works Director Don Brittain
Reno County Public Works Director Don Brittain

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A grant request has been made to help pay for the bridge approximately 3/4 mile south of the city of Buhler, on Buhler Road. Former Buhler mayor and current County Commissioner Daniel Friesen publicly thanked Public Works Director Don Brittain last week for his work on the application.

"Don was instrumental in getting that done in a very short window," Friesen said. "He was also the one that gave me the tip that this might be an opportunity to solve a problem for the Buhler community that's been around for a long time."

During flooding events, Buhler is cut off from the rest of the county by flood water on two of its main roads. This causes a lot of problems.

"They include inability for our fire department to reach out into the county, because its based in Buhler, a very high increase in response time by EMS, which is based in Hutch. We have a nursing home, which has high risk individuals. It's frankly not fast enough the way it is, getting from Hutch to Buhler. Doubling that, at any time, is a risk to the community. Finally, our school children, Buhler is a unique school district, a very large district for the size of community we have. We send over 800 kids into the community every day. When they have to go north to, I think it's Arapahoe Road. If you know K-61, there's a curve there. It's a pretty dangerous intersection. Trying to shove a dozen buses and very poor drivers all through that intersection has been dangerous. There have been accidents during flooding events, because of all the traffic there."

Brittain, for his part, knew the solution was not simple, so he wanted to wait until there was a good chance to get help to try for it.

"The only way that you can fix this problem, is to build a bigger bridge so that, by raising the road, all the water will go under the bridge and not cause any additional rising upstream," Brittain said. "This is a very important project, but to replace the bridge that I knew I couldn't get a grant on, because it didn't meet the criteria of a grant, I couldn't support that, so the bridge wasn't ready to be replaced, as far as that goes. The bridge was misdesigned, the road was misdesigned, 82nd Road was misdesigned. That's very unfortunate that it's caused this problem. That should not exist. The people from Buhler should not have to leave this county to get to Hutchinson. That's what happens when we have this flooding. Now that we have a possibility of getting 80% of this paid for through a federal grant, now it does make sense. The bridge is at the age where it already has a weight limit on it now."

Brittain likes their chances for getting the federal grant for the bridge, but that still remains to be seen.

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