Unusually severe winter weather conditions and recent wet weather have combined to significantly damage rock-surfaced roads in rural Douglas County. Local rock-surfaced roads that are maintained by the nine townships in Douglas County have been particularly impacted. Township resources are severely strained in trying to repair damaged roads. The Board of County Commissioners requests patience from residents and travelers on township-maintained local roads while the townships work diligently to repair damaged roads.
Repairing the many miles of township-maintained roads is an enormous task. The nine townships have approximately 500 miles of local rock-surfaced roads to maintain. Road mileage varies significantly by township with Palmyra Township having 130 miles of road to maintain, while Clinton Township and Grant Township have 26 miles and 29 miles, respectively. To keep mill levies low, townships typically operate very lean organizations with very few employees and pieces of equipment. During seasonally normal weather conditions, this approach is adequate. However, during unusually severe weather conditions, townships struggle to keep up with road maintenance.
Douglas County’s road system is called a County-Township system. Under this system, the county is responsible for the rural major- and minor-collector roads, while the nine townships are typically responsible for the rural local roads. The county also has responsibility for all bridges and large culverts on township-maintained roads. By Kansas law, townships have full responsibility for maintenance of their assigned local rural roads.
While townships are fully responsible for their roads, Douglas County is investigating ways to assist the townships in repairing roads. Douglas County’s road maintenance budget is set given the County’s road system and bridges, and cannot support repairing and maintaining the township roads. Townships establish their own separate road budgets. However, the County is looking into alternatives to possibly assist townships in repairing their higher-trafficked roads. This effort will take time. Again, the Board of County Commissioners request patience while the townships and County work collectively to bring damaged roads into serviceable condition.