Commissioner calls road conditions' a dire emergency'

ROCKFORD TOWNSHIP, Kan. (KWCH) Neighbors in Sedgwick County say bad road conditions combined with rainfall is preventing emergency personnel from helping people in the Rockford Township.

"Your house is on fire? No firetrucks," said Don Thornbrugh, he's lived in the area for seven years. "You need an ambulance? Good luck."

Mulvane, Rosehill, and Derby surround the Rockford Township. It's in the southeast corner of the county. The community is unincorporated and the burden of repairs falls on the sole shoulders of Rockford Township residents.

According to Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell, the area has 42 miles of dirt roads.

"We had three significant, record-level rain storms that did tremendous damage to these roads," said Howell. "Those three rain storms did unbelievable damage."

Thornbrugh says that it comes down to the safety of his family.

"My daughter has been off the road twice, my son totaled his car there,
and my neighbor's daughter totaled her car there."

But the cost of the repairs is something the township cannot afford.

According to Howell, Rockford Township's annual revenue is about $350,000. Half of that money is used just to maintain roads in the area.

Howell says it would take an estimated $1 million to do minimal repairs. He says it would take about $3 million to get the roads up to county standard.

During the county commission meeting Wednesday, commissioners could not come up with a solution.

"All we talked about today was essentially a limited basis that they would be able to ask us to provide an estimate to do some work," said Howell.

If the county isn't able to find a quick resolution, Thonrbrugh says some residents in Rockford are considering dissolving the township entirely.

"I call that a nuclear option, but I think that is something that is a reality," said Howell.

By dissolving the township, the county would have to take on the responsibility of paying for all road repairs.

"It's a dire, emergent situation," said Howell. "It needs to be resolved as soon as possible."