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County roads session targets fixes

News editor

When it comes to Marion County roads, five years’ worth lasts just 18 months, at least when it comes to planning.

Spurred in part by a steady stream of recent complaints about the poor condition of gravel and dirt roads, commissioners met Monday with road and bridge department personnel to figure out what comes next.

“We’re looking at putting a plan together,” Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said. “I put together a five-year plan a year and a half ago.”

While overall goals haven’t changed, Commissioner Dan Holub said impacts related to the unpredictability of weather created the need to revisit the plan.

“Those big rains, other parts of the plan had to get pushed back in favor of repairs,” Holub said. “We kill a month or two just trying to get everything back to the way it was.”

Crawford said recent weather-related road repairs were a good example of that.

“We’re just starting to put a dent in it,” he said. “We’ve probably knocked out a hundred miles of gravel roads since this has taken place.”

To make some roads driveable, Crawford said crews have to do a short-term fix of dumping and spreading gravel, even though the roads may need more extensive rebuilding long term.

“Is it all done right? No,” he said. “Should it be done right? Yes.”

Holub said getting gravel from the quarry in Florence hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve had some hard times getting the right size gravel,” he said. “There’s a huge demand from other counties. They’re working like mad grinding gravel, but what we need isn’t always available. Some of the roads we’re having to use inch-and-three-quarters instead of an inch-and-a half.”

A strategy for the future that emerged from the meeting is to create gravel stockpiles throughout the county.

“That way we don’t have to haul it from Florence all the time, it would be pre-positioned,” Holub said. “When something happens we already have the gravel there.”

High volume gravel roads in need of rebuilding will get attention this year, Crawford said.

“We’re looking at eventually rebuilding Diamond Rd. from US-56 north,” he said. “That’s where all the oversized loads come in. We need to work on drainage, culverts, and getting a nice crown in the road with good ditches.”

Another road Crawford said needs the same treatment is 140th Rd. west of Aulne to Indigo Rd.

Holub said one goal of the five-year plan, chip sealing, was largely completed last year. This year, the focus will be on crack sealing.

“We’ll focus on cracks so that next year we can go get another chip seal, but we have to do this before we can,” Holub said. “We’ve got the machine and people to do it, but it’s going to take all summer.”

Installation of new culverts, replacement of six of nine bridges on the annual inspection list, and tree trimming were also discussed.

Projects in all sections of the county were included for this year, but Holub said road maintenance will be a major issue for years to come.

“If we start something now, it isn’t going to solve all the problems in our lifetimes,” he said. “We have to get to the point where we don’t have to do it over and over every year. We’re trying to make two plus two equal seven, and it ain’t easy.”

In business conducted Friday:

  • The commission approved of county employees volunteering for the city of Marion’s proposed participation in No Kid Hungry, which provides free meals to children over the summer. The commission will contribute up to $200 to the costs of providing fresh fruit.
  • County Attorney Susan Robson notified commissioners of an upcoming tax sale of between 120 and 130 properties. Owners of said property have until the day of the auction to pay what is owed to keep their properties.
  • Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman presented bids for a trailer she can use for trade shows. She also told commissioners she would like a new county vehicle.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2015

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