Weston residents irked by lack of full bridge repair

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo Flash flooding swept away a portion of a small bridge on Humes Road, pictured here, in Weston, Mo. in early July. City workers made minor repairs to the bridge, but citizens remain concerned about the roadway. A full repair isn’t scheduled until the city hears back from federal agencies on possible grant money for the project. WESTON, Mo. — Residents living off Humes Road are tired of waiting for their bridge to be repaired after flash flooding over the summer.

On July 6, storms dumped 6 to 7 inches of rain on Weston within an hour, sending local creeks out of their banks and up over roadways all over the city. Washington and Walnut streets were affected, and Weston City Hall was cut off for several hours by a foot of water.

On Humes Road, the creek washed away the small bridge that serves as residents’ only access in and out of their small development.

The one-lane concrete bridge was made passable and city crews dumped additional gravel on the bridge and adjacent low area but were waiting for the go-ahead from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before performing more permanent repairs.

At the Sept. 14 board of aldermen meeting, almost a dozen residents in the Humes Road area attended and spoke out about their access problems. Residents complained of their cars bottoming out on the bridge and in large potholes in the area as well as the inability of nearby property owners to mow due to large ruts in the floodway.

“We don’t have a secondary road, so there’s no way in and out of there,” resident Donna Hinkle said.

At least two residents or their close family members are pregnant or have other conditions that could require emergency care, and residents expressed concerns about emergency vehicle access.

Additionally, once winter comes, residents feel the area will become impassable.

West Platte Fire Protection District chief Lynn Johnson was present at the meeting, and said the bridge had been checked and ambulances and fire trucks could use it.

Weston mayor Kent Stelljes sympathized with the residents.

“You’re right. It’s absolutely atrocious,” he said. “The problem is, we have to wait for FEMA and SEMA and that process is slow — sometimes it seems like it moves slower than a turtle going uphill backwards.”

City staff held a preliminary meeting with federal and state officials on flood damage repairs, but cannot begin repairs until after a project kick-off meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

FEMA and SEMA require municipalities to follow a specific process in seeking and documenting bid processes for repairs. So long as the process is followed, FEMA may pay for 75 percent to 90 percent of the total cost of a major project — such as the reconstruction of the Humes Road bridge. For more minor projects, FEMA could pay 75 percent of the costs with the possibility that SEMA may kick in an additional 10 percent.

Weston city clerk Kim Kirby said a city-contracted engineer estimated the Humes Road bridge could cost about $500,000.

Aldermen suggested seeking stormwater grant money from Platte County, as funded by the county’s half-cent sales tax for parks, recreation and stormwater control. The board voted 3-1 to ask Platte County about the possibility of diverting a portion of the city’s stormwater grant already awarded for the Washington and Spring streets reconstruction project, as that project is already running behind schedule. Alderman Bill Baker cast the sole dissenting vote.

Also at the meeting, the board voted 3-1 to require the West Platte School District to purchase a 2-inch water meter at the old football field. The matter was raised by Baker.

Although the school district pays for the water it uses to water its field, currently, and for many years, the district has used a nearby fire hydrant for its watering. Aldermen Patrick Farnan and Joyce Burch felt the use of the fire hydrant was a possible safety concern.

Alderman Mark Seymour cast the sole dissenting vote, noting he believed the city should first check with the school district on the intentions for the old football field once the new stadium opens next year.

Director of public works Mike Large also announced the city would be conducting smoke testing of the sewer lines Sept. 17-18 in the downtown area. The general test area extends from a few blocks east and west of Main Street from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Smoke will be forced through sewer lines to locate leaks and Large said most residents should not even notice its presence. He said the smoke is harmless.