Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker once again brought forth the Keetonville Road realignment issue Tuesday striking down a plan to connect with 86th Street North.
“I am going to just say it, this is not a good plan and it is not good for Rogers County,” Thacker said.
Thacker and fellow commissioner Dan DeLozier voted against the proposal, which was one of six projects that have been floated since the 2008 failure of Keetonville Road.
District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm had proposed 86th Street North be extended and a bridge be built over the Verdigris River.
The project to connect to 86th Street North is projected to cost $6.12 million.
After much discussion, Thacker and DeLozier determined that the only alternative route that could be supported would be the 76th Street option B alignment.
The option would cost approximately $7.8 million, based on a 2009 estimate. “Obviously there are no easy answers on this, but if you received that much FEMA money and the goal is to get the poor school children out of here, then this is the only option that makes since,” Thacker said.
Thacker and DeLozier discussed the 76th Street option B that would be inline with the original roadway. The option would give people access back to the Port of Catoosa without traveling toward Owasso, according to Thacker.
Engineer Brian Kellogg spoke to the commissioners, providing an overview of the project history and the issues that were faced along the way.
“I would love the 76th Street alignment,” Kellogg said. “It is three million short on our funds.”
Kellogg expressed his concern for the existing roadway and explained why he felt the road was never fixed.
“I visited with the geotech guy [Bolongia] just a few days ago,” Kellogg said. “With as dry as it had been and with the next big rain or if the river rises it [the failure zone] is going to take on water. I wouldn’t be surprised if the thing takes on water like we never seen before.”
Kellogg added that the road in its exact location was addressed in the report and the recommendation was to avoid this section of the road. The issue is the potential failure of the roadway due to the location of the river, according to Kellogg.
“Even if the road was built it is something that would have to be maintained now and forever,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg presented a letter from FEMA dated March 2011, explaining the concerns after the initial review of project documents. The letter listed concerns with the geographic area, unknown risks, potential future failure, extensive land use changes, impact to the floodplain and the potential hazard to the public.
The letter really did not make any sense, according to Kellogg.
Numerous meetings and conversations were held after receiving the letter, he said.
The letter requested that Helm have an Environmental Impact Study done before any further involvement would be provided from FEMA.
The EIS would cost approximately $800,000, according to Kellogg.
The county would have had to pay for the study without FEMA funds and without any guarantee that FEMA would provide future funding for the project.
The letter only listed this requirement but did not terminate the repair of Keetonville Road.
“I heard that FEMA said that you can’t go this way,” Thacker said. “The goal I heard originally to save all those children and help those people.”
The current route is going west not south, he said.
“No there was nothing,” Kellogg said. “They heavily implied that you were not going this way. It was the feel we got from them through the conversations with FEMA.”
Kellogg then later clarified the statement explaining that they [Guy Engineering and Rogers County District 2] were not prohibited from fixing the road by FEMA.
The issue was that Helm would have to meet FEMA’s requirements to receive the funding, according to Kellogg.
“We wanted their funds,” Kellogg said. “Yes you can do what you want to do but if you want to live within the funding source, your going to do what they [FEMA] wants you to do.”
Thacker raised the issue that the road could have been fixed without FEMA if Helm wanted to fix the road.
A brief discussion about the option to fix the road was conducted, however Helm was not an active participant.
Kellogg spoke on behalf of Helm provided different options or scenarios to Thacker.
After the discussion concerning an independent road repair project Kellogg returned to the original FEMA funding discussion.
Kellogg explained the requirements were listed for the environmental issues that FEMA needed met to fund the road repair project.
“You can do anything you want as a county commissioner but if you want federal funds you have to comply with that,” Helm said. “Unless we spent a million to fund the study with no guarantee, then you have wasted a million dollars. The federal government is not going to give you any money without you walking their line.”