With safety as a top priority, Ash Grove has agreed to fund a street widening project with the city of Louisville providing the labor.
Once the project is completed, Walnut Street/Business 66 will have an additional 14 feet on the west side and 12 feet on its east side, giving large trucks and motorists more room to turn onto and off of Highway 50.
“The problem is the street lacks wide enough shoulders, which are dirt and gravel shoulders,” said Cass County Board Chairman/Louisville City Administrator Dan Henry. In some spots there is a six and one-half inch drop from the road to the shoulder.
Inclement weather and heavy rock and tanker trucks on the road have degraded the shoulders.
A citizen Advisory Committee headed by Lowell Daisley first identified the problem and brought it to the attention of Ash Grove officials. Until recently, there was also some confusion as to what entity was responsible for maintaining the road.
“Ash Grove contacted city of Louisville officials, who researched ownership of the road in question and determined it belonged to Cass County,” Henry said. “Everything north between the railroad tracks and Highway 50 belonged to the county. Everything south after the new Highway 50 opened was the city of Louisville’s.”
The research traced the ownership back to Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR, now the Nebraska Department of Transportation), which opened the “new” Highway 50 in 1949. “At that time, this section of road was transferred to Cass County. No one with Cass County Department of Roads had a clue it was their responsibility to maintain this road,” Henry said. “The city of Louisville and Cass County then had conversations regarding the most efficient way to maintain this road. It became evident that the most cost-effective answer was for the city to assume ownership.”
Cass County transferred the road to the city, which in turn, devised a plan with Ash Grove to solve the problem. The plan concluded with Ash Grove funding the widening project and the city providing the labor. “I believe this is a good example of two government agencies and the private sector working together to produce efficient results,” Henry said.
Sept. 28, Ash Grove Plant Manager John Dale presented the city of Louisville a $73,125 check to cover the cost of widening the road.
“I really appreciate what our Citizen Advisory Council did. They meet three times a year and work with us on local issues. We’re very appreciative that the city of Louisville worked so quickly on this. We get great support from the community and we really appreciate it,” Dale said.
The road is not the first time Ash Grove has helped with projects in Louisville. “The old ball field on Ash Grove property had an Air Quality Permit on it, so Ash Grove leased ground across the street to us for 99 years at no cost,” Henry said. “Every time we wanted to buy a fire truck, Ash Grove was there to help. I’ve never called Ash Grove when they said ‘no.’”
Louisville Mayor Roger Behrns agreed. “Ash Grove is important to the town and has always been a great partner to work with on projects from the baseball field to the road,” he said.