Ohlman talk: Mayor says he lacks funding; county wants to rid itself of roadMitchell Mayor Lou Sebert says he wants action on a rough section of Ohlman Street on the city’s western edge. “I think the city and county should get together and get it done,” Sebert said this week. Finding the money to do the job, however, is another matter.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Mitchell Mayor Lou Sebert says he wants action on a rough section of Ohlman Street on the city’s western edge.
“I think the city and county should get together and get it done,” Sebert said this week. Finding the money to do the job, however, is another matter.
The stretch of Ohlman in question is west of the Highway 37 bypass and between Eighth Avenue and 23rd Avenue (Cemetery Road). The road is a busy shortcut to the municipal golf course and neighborhoods around Lake Mitchell. The county recently tore up the southernmost section and returned it to gravel after worn asphalt developed multiple potholes. County crews planned to re-grind the worst section Friday.
The section has generated ongoing complaints for both city and county road crews.
When he gets complaints on Ohlman’s condition, Sebert said, he tells people, “It’s a county-city jurisdiction and I don’t have the money budgeted for it.”
“Do they like that? I don’t know, but it happens to be true,” he said. “It is a joint responsibility, and how much should the city spend on county work? We have our own share of problems in town with streets this year, and we’re still working on them.”
What’s more, Sebert said, the beat-up section is in the county, just outside the city limits, though areas of Ohlman north of Cemetery Road are in city limits.
County Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg told the commissioners on Tuesday that Ohlman is on the state map as a primary county road, which surprised him since it has always been considered a jointly owned road. The city handled snow removal and sanded intersections on the road for years, he said.
To Sebert’s knowledge, joint city-county ownership on the roughest part of North Ohlman hasn’t changed.
The city is still responsible for the east half of the road, and the county, the west half. Similar sharing arrangements occur on several other jointly owned roads, Sebert said.
“Where we don’t have a shared property line is down by Twin City Fan. Other than that, it’s a shared property and from what I know of state law, it has shared expenses,” he said.
At their Tuesday meeting, the Davison County commissioners will consider passing a resolution to update the state highway map. The measure would, among other items, remove that section of Ohlman Street and other roads from the county primary road system.
It doesn’t mean that Mitchell will automatically accept Ohlman if the county removes it from its primary list of roads.
Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Taylor said he plans to discuss the pending resolution with Weinberg and further research the ownership issues involved. He said he will attend Tuesday’s commission meeting.
Sebert said Ohlman will be an expensive road to repair.
Doing it right would require tearing out and replacing old material with firm, road-base material. A better drainage solution would also have to be found for the west, or county side, of Ohlman. That side of the roadway has had standing water for months.
According to Sebert, city Public Works Director Tim McGannon estimated an $800,000 overall cost for a thorough rebuilding and repaving.
Weinberg agreed that a complete re-build could cost that much, but he said the one-mile section could be repaved for as little as $100,000 with a 2-inch asphalt mat.
Weinberg said the drainage problem could be easily fixed if the city gave the county permission to run a culvert under the road to connect with recent city drainage improvements on the east side of the roadway.
Sebert didn’t completely rule out work this year on Ohlman, but that would require a special appropriation from the Mitchell City Council, which probably would have to tap into reserves.
“Right now, I don’t have funds to deal with it,” he said.