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County waiting on feds before they can start full repair projects

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

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Adams County officials continue to do what they can to repair damage to county roads and bridges in the wake of flooding that occurred earlier this month.

Bureaucratic red tape, is hindering the process somewhat, as County Road and Bridge Supervisor Tom Glenn has been instructed to hold off on certain repairs until Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money can be confirmed.

"Yeah, it's frustrating, " said Road and Bridge Superintendent Tom Glenn. 'There is a lot of work we could be doing that we have to wait on."

Glenn said that some repairs are in a "holding pattern" until July 7, when a FEMA representative is expected to be in the area to assess damage.

In the meantime, the county is busy working on certain repairs where they can justify working without delays.

"We're plugging along, " said Commissioner Mike Paradis. "It's slow, but we are making progress."

Last week, the county was able to temporarily brace the bridge into Wildhorse and complete enough work on the damaged road to allow residents to get in and out.

The next highest priority is the Goodrich Creek area, where floodwaters altered the course of the creek, wiping out a section of the road and displacing a bridge.

"Where the road used to be there is now a creek six feet deep and 14 feet wide, " Glenn explained.

The county has begun negotiations with an adjacent landowner that has agreed to work with them on building a new stretch of road of his property. In the meantime, several summer cabins remain inaccessible by motor vehicle, though no permanent residences are cut off.

"We're going to get to work on that next week, " said Glenn. "But I've told (landowners) not to get their hopes up (for a quick fix).

Glenn noted that the area of Goodrich Road near Cow Creek on the Washington County line is also heavily damaged, but is passable by vehicles with four-wheel drive.

Also a bridge over Cottonwood Creek on Jackson Creek Road south of Council is passable, though the bridge did receive considerable damage that will need to be fixed.

The Middle Fork Road is badly damaged in numerous spots and Glenn wasn't incredibly optimistic about the timeframe to get that road reopened.

"We may not see that road open this year, " he admitted. "It comes down to the FEMA money, and when you are dealing with the feds, things don't happen that quick."

Although the Middle Fork Road does not provide access to any residences, there are several interests that could be affected by a prolonged closure.

Paradis noted that he has heard from several different logging contractors that are scheduled to begin timber extraction on adjacent Potlatch land in that area. Though he noted that the areas to be logged are accessible via alternate routes, he mentioned that these routes are much longer and more treacherous than the Middle Fork Road and, at best, would represent a steep increase in cost for the contractors.

Also many area ranchers graze cattle in the area. Glenn noted that the original plans for summer road work are out the window. There were plans to gravel the road to White Licks that is now off the table, and other projects, such as graveling Pole Creek up to the snowmobile parking spot, and repairing the bridge to the Bear Creek Cemetery have been put on the backburner. He did, however, express his belief that the latter two projects would still be done this summer.

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Original Publication Date: June 24, 2010

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