MINEOLA - Mills County Engineer Kevin Mayberry said his office has fielded numerous complaints about the heavy truck traffic on Barrus Road, but believes the concerns expressed by area residents are being addressed.
“We do deal with complaints, pretty much every week,” Mayberry said. “There are things we try to address and make adjustments on.”
The area of concern is a stretch of Barrus Road between 221st and 230th St., where construction trucks are hauling dirt from private property near Brothers Ave. to a site owned by the Google company near Highway 275 and Bunge Ave. in southern Pottawattamie County. Mayberry said the trucks are transporting about 8,500 yards of dirt per day.
“I’d put it in the range of 400-600 loads per day,” Mayberry said.
The dirt is being transported to Google from construction company owner Cory Leick’s property near 230th and Brothers Ave. Last September, the Mills County Zoning Board of Adjustments granted Leick a special use permit to extract soil from his 32-acre partial of land. Leick told the board of adjustments he would be moving dirt on his property to create an additional 25 acres of land suitable for farming, but also confirmed up to 1 million cubic tons of dirt (about 60,000 truck loads) could be removed from the property. The special use permit was granted, despite concerns from area residents about dust, pollution, noise and increased traffic that would be created by the dirt removal aspect of the project.
Construction trucks are now hauling dirt from the property on a regular basis, creating the issues of concern on Barrus Road. Mayberry said complaints have ranged from the trucks running stop signs and making unsafe turns in front of oncoming traffic to noise and dirty road conditions. Mayberry said the county has addressed the concerns with Leick and Pink Grading, the contractor hired by Google to haul the dirt.
“He (Leick) has tried to do everything he can to make things run smooth there, however he’s not in charge of the entire operation,” Mayberry said. “It’s his site, but Pink Grading has the contract with Google.
“We have made a few adjustments, like requiring a flagger when they come out of that field on Barrus Road. They also stage a person at the corner of Barrus and 221st during the peak hours of traffic – two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.”
A street sweeper makes passes up and down the road on a regular basis and the contractors have also been asked to remove dirt that gets “caked” on the road when it rains, to prevent the surface from becoming slick.
Some residents living in the area believe additional measures need to be taken to reduce the intensity of the truck traffic on Barrus. Judy Lehman, who operates a greenhouse with her family on Barrus Road, said trucks have created a dangerous situation. Last month, her daughter was injured when the vehicle she was driving on Barrus was struck by one of the construction trucks when the driver failed to yield the right of way. Mindy Lehman’s vehicle was knocked into a roadside ditch and rolled.
“If she had not been wearing her seat belt, she would have been dead,” Judy Lehman said. “It’s dangerous to have that many trucks on the road. They’re speeding and they’re not stopping at stop signs.”
Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos said his office has monitored the situation on Barrus, but he believes Leick and Pink Grading are taking the necessary precautions to ensure public safety. Goos said he spent three days in an unmarked vehicle observing the traffic flow and didn’t see trucks ignoring the speed limit or stop signs.
Mayberry noted that Leick’s special use permit is up for review in August and he expects concerns voiced by residents of the area to be addressed during the review.