MOVING FORWARD: Commissioners approve project

COLUMBIA CITY — Amy Lybarger, district conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Columbia City, came before the commissioners Monday, requesting the approval of a project concerning the highway.The area Lybarger is concerned about is CR 600 N., approximately a mile and a half west of Ind. 109. After investigation, Lybarger said they realized there was a tile blow hole. “We are very nervous over this situation,” said Lybarger. “We want to get it fixed and repaired as fast as possible. It would be a very easy repair, and quick repair.”Lybarger showed the commissioners a picture taken in January of this year. The photo showed a large area of water which was encroaching the county’s highway road easement to the point of a foot or a foot and a half below the road elevation.“Normally, the water is 75 feet to 100 feet south of the road, so when it’s right at the edge of the road, it makes us kind of nervous, especially when cars are involved,” said Lybarger.Michael Barton, highway department superintendent, said any time there is a legal drain in the county, and it crosses a county road, the county highway is responsible for the pipe that goes “right to way to right to way” under the ground.“We’ve had to tell Amy that there are two parts to this,” said Barton. “There is an upper pipe, I think it’s about four feet deep and we thought we had the money to replace that, but the bigger problem is 15 to 17 feet down. There is another pipe that might need to be replaced.”Lybarger said the federal government is putting $19,000 into the repairs right now, and the water has been completely drained back. With the water being drained away, the clay tile, which is estimated to be 70-80 years old, is becoming more brittle with the exposure to air.“What we are asking the county to do is two things,” said Lybarger. “Replace the culvert or put in a culvert and use that also as an emergency for the road, and that would be approximately four feet deep, and then replace the county tile.” Lybarger said she would need an estimated amount of $3,000 to move forward with the project. Engineers and a contractor could be ready within a week’s time.After some discussion, Barton said the highway department may be able to reduce the cost by a third. No matter where the money came from, the commissioners agreed this project should move forward.