Rudy Ellis with the Precinct 2 road work crew mixes oil and dirt to later be used to repair roads. Some precinct residents are calling a meeting to try and find solutions to what they say are deteriorating road conditions in the area.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts
Residents in Precinct 2 plan meeting on road conditions
Commissioner says oil prices, budget, storms have hampered repairs
By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor
July 9, 2008 - A group of residents plan to hold a community meeting Saturday morning to discuss concerns regarding road conditions in their neighborhood.
The meeting is being hosted by Jim Murray and Jim Wright, who live along County Road 2331 and are concerned about the deteriorating condition of that and other nearby county roads.
The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Murray's home at 993 CR 2331. The group invites all members of the community as well as their elected officials to attend and discuss the topic.
"I'll be happy to meet with that group and try to explain where we are," Precinct 2 Commissioner Burke Bullock said. "I've responded every time someone calls. It may not be what they wanted, but we've responded."
The county roads are in bad shape, Wright said.
"For six years we've been trying to get him to do something with it," he said. "There are parts that tear vehicles up getting in and out of it. It takes longer to get from the house to [State] Highway 11 than to Wal-Mart. and that's 10 to 15 miles. There are a lot of pot holes. About six months ago, a couple of truck loads of white rock and gravel were put down, but nothing's been done since then. It was never finished. There are some really bad spots, five to six inches deep and two foot across."
"They're bad everywhere," Bullock said when asked about the road conditions. "We're working on them as hard as we can. We do have a plan to fix them, but we had two storms in Precinct 2 that knocked down hundreds of trees in the road, took out several culverts. We have our men working full time, even working on Saturdays some to catch up."
The commissioner noted that while he'd like to repair and fix all roads annually, doing so is just not financially possible, given the current price of oil and the state of the county budget. Last summer they were only able to completely reclaim and repair eight miles or road.
Bullock said that road plan he uses involves four phases and is a continuation of that set in place by H.W. Halcomb, who formerly served as Precinct 2 commissioner.
He said that roadways are prioritized by need, with work such as replacing three culverts on County Road 2310, which has been closed to traffic since the run of spring storms washed them out from under the road, given top priority. He also currently has a road crew that daily fills pot holes, and another is working to clear ditches to expand a section or road near a dairy.
Bullock said CR 2331 is due to have the top put on, but other work has taken priority.
The operating plan includes changing dirt roads to gravel roads. Bullock noted that while that has been a goal, there are still a number of roads that are dirt because there hasn't been enough funding to improve them, especially those roads no one lives on. Holes are filled with rock, and later covered with a sand and oil base substance and smoothed over with a blade when possible.When patching is no longer available, the road must be reclaimed with a base reinforced and new surface put down. Eventually, he hopes to be able to switch to a surface like that used on state highways, which can be ceil-coated when repairs are needed.
He noted that $127,000 in FEMA funding designated to Precinct 2 to help with damages from the spring storms is going to road repairs such as pot holes from water and trees on roads and washed out culverts.
"We're doing all we can to keep the others [roads] going while we do these. We're doing it the cheapest, best and fastest we can. We'll do the worst places first and expand from there until money runs out," Bullock said of road repairs.
Factors such as frequency, volume and types of travel on roadways are what Bullock takes into consideration when determining which roads get what repairs when. He looks at whether the roads are main routes of travel for residents, if they are main mail and school bus routes, and whether they have frequented cemeteries. He noted that roads highly frequented by large 18-wheelers hauling big loads of feed to dairies or boiler houses obviously won't remain in as good repair as others, as the heavy vehicles cause more wear and tear to the surface.
Residents of the CR 2331 community said that while they are sympathetic to Bullock's plight and the many factors involved in road repairs, and were glad of improvements to the road base and the placements of the rock mix on their roads, that was six months ago. The improvements have yet to be competed, and there are a number of other holes in the road.