Commission approves cuts on two county roads

Commission approves cuts on two county roads


 At the April 5 commissioner meeting the commission were asked by the Big Horn Joint Powers Board to allow for a cut through Road 8 and Lane 40 (Meeteetse Highway) to install a water line. The request was tabled until the April 19 commissioner meeting.

John Joyce appeared before the commission as the representative of the water board.  Nick Wilson from Wilson Construction attended both meetings.

Joyce said he has concerns about the boring and jacking process the water line would have to do if the county did ok the permit to cut the roads.

He gave an example of the time the board were laying line on Golf Course Road and did the bore/jack process. It took five years but eventually subsided into the void that was left.

If the county will allow open cuts on the two roads in the discussion, he feels the roads will hold up better than with the bore/jack option. Joyce explained with the material the ground is made up of at these locations there is no telling how much the material will fall back in.

One advantage to the open cut, per Joyce, is that the contractor will have to put casing in. This means if there are problems, crews can make the repairs by pulling out the casing from the side and not in the roads themselves. If there is a leak the casing waterproof will move the water to the right of ways versus up through the road.

Joyce said that he understands the commission’s hesitancy about cutting roads that are in such good condition. “This is a once in our lifetime, I hope several lifetimes…this would be a one-time deal. That pipe will last over 100 years. We shouldn’t be in there again.”

He added that there could be a bond with the county that holds the board responsible for repairs/maintenance. Joyce said that if there were a problem with any of their lines the county would just need to notify the board. They would pay a contractor or the county to do the work. The board’s goal is to get good compaction and flow fill on top to ensure there are no settling problems in the future.

Commissioner Felix Carrizales pointed out that everywhere the roads have been cut, there is an issue. County Engineer Willie Bridges told the group that Road 11½ was cut around eight years ago for irrigation line and there hasn’t been a problem with that one. He also acknowledged there were some other roads in the county that have settled since being cut.

North End Road & Bridge Supervisor Eric Mann said there were three problem areas on Airport Road. Those were done four years ago. He also mentioned additional roads that have been comprised by cuts. Commission Chair Dave Neves asked if flow fill was used on those cuts. He was told no.

Carrizales continued to express his concern about who would be responsible for the roads should there be a problem. Joyce reassured that the water board would be and there was no time limit on that responsibility.

Commissioner Bruce Jolley asked Bridges if he was aware of the position of the water board on repairs/maintenance. Bridges told the commission yes and that is why the permits are issued to the owner of the lines versus the contractors. He explained that contractors can come and go but the owner of the utility will always be there. The likelihood of them going away is slim. However, that is a little tougher with irrigation lines because there may be a change in landowners.

After further discussion including input from the Engineering and Road and Bridge departments the commissioners approved the permit requests with a 2 to 1 vote. Carrizales voted no.

Joyce said added that the water board would provide an additional memorandum of understanding to ensure any issues with the cuts would be paid for by the board.