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In July, a teenage driver lost control of her vehicle driving along 68th Street. 

While uninjured, the car snapped four fence posts, knocked down a gate and destroyed two ornamental planters on Keith Karel's property. With the gravel road's deterioration in recent years due to increased use, Karel is setting out to make it safer for everyone. 

“It’s dangerous. There’s too much traffic, they can’t keep the gravel on it,” Karel said. “They can put gravel down in the summertime, and after a rain or two, it’s gone.”

Karel said the road can be extremely dusty in dry weather or muddy after it rains. For many, the road can be difficult to drive down. With the recent expansion of the Discovery subdivision and the creation of the West Elk subdivision along 68th Street, Karel said he's worried about increased use from young and inexperienced drivers. 

To help with what he believes is a real problem, Karel presented a petition to the Platte County Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday, Nov. 29, meeting. While he didn’t want to come across as bothersome, he said that someone needed to bring the issue to the county's attention. 

“You’ve gotta take the bull by the horn and bring attention to it, otherwise no one is going to do anything,” Karel said. “Something has got to be done here.”

The petition, with 112 signatures, requests the board to put a project on the either the one-to-two or one-to-six year plan that would put a hard surface or asphalt along 68th Street from 48th Avenue to 69th Avenue. This about a 1.75-mile stretch of road that encompasses all of the streets directly north of the Elk County Club Golf Course, extending to the Discovery subdivision.

Karel was joined with about a dozen other residents at the meeting who shared his concern. Jane Tooley was one of them.

She has lived in the area for about 20 years. With the additional homes built in the area in recent years, she said traffic on 68th Street has dramatically increased. She’s hoping the country will pave the road as soon as possible, but said she'd be satisfied if the project was simply recognized by the county and placed on one of its future road plans.

“Obviously, I’d like to see it done next week, or I wish it would have been done 10 years ago, but getting it on the plan is important," Tooley said. 

Another person at the meeting was Gordon Blaser. He has lived along 68th Street for 28 years and said the road has gotten worse over time. He said he drives west instead of east down 68th Street due to its roughness, increasing the time it takes for him to get to Columbus. 

“It’s become very rough over the last year and it seems the maintenance isn’t as good as it could be,” Blaser said. “I’d like to see it improved.”

The governing body agreed to refer the request to the Roads and Bridge Committee for evaluation.

“We understand your concern,” Board Chairman Jerry Engdahl said to Karel. “We will refer it to Road and Bridge (committee) and it’s up to them to recommend to the board if it will go on the one or six year plan.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News Review.

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