VIDEO: DeKalb County roads in dire need of funds

VIDEO: DeKalb County roads in dire need of funds

PHOTO:  A portion of County Road 255 in Adamsburg, was plowed up and replaced with treated base material earlier today. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Video at the Bottom) In Tuesday's (May 9, 2017) regular meeting of the DeKalb County Commission, around 30 minutes of the meeting revolved around the discussion of funding road maintenance within the county. The discussion came during the Road Department's portion of the meeting, which is customarily done as the first item of business.

Road Department Director Tom Broyles addresses the commission on the road maintenance situation. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

"We're still doing a lot patching, we're sending out patch trucks everyday," Broyles began his report. "Today we're not hauling anything, we're actually hauling some treated base material out to County Road 255 out in District III, that crew is plowing up an old rough paved road, and we're trying to upgrade it a little bit."

"How much longer do you think we'll have to have that patch crew out there? I know in my district, we just can't keep up with the potholes right now. Is it that way over the whole county?" District I Commissioner Shane Wootten asked.

"It's basically the same way, what we're doing with the actual patch trucks, it's working real well. I guess what you have to understand is it's just a temporary fix. As long as it rains every day or two like it has, you're going to have some potholes to deal with. I think we are making some headway on it, but I'm gonna tell you, until we can start resurfacing these roads, it's going to be a persistent problem, it's never going to go away completely," explained Broyles.

"I know this road we are working on now in District III, that road has not been resurfaced since it was paved. We've got some other roads that we are looking at about reclaiming, that were probably paved 14 years ago that have not been resurfaced. These roads will not hold up that long. These roads really need to be resurfaced about every four to six years, and we're going 12, 14, and even past that on some," said Broyles.

"At least one out of four years, spend every bit of money we have on resurfacing, because if you are losing an existing paved road in order to pave a new one, you're not making any progress. Sadly that has not been the case, the money has all been spent basically on new paving. There has been very little resurfacing done, and we are paying the price for it," Broyles commented on the road situation. "These roads that have not been resurfaced in the last 12 or 15 years are going to be continuing problems until we get something done."

Commissioner Wootten then pointed out the changing situation over the years: "Four years ago when I was first elected, we had one patch truck and did a lot of hand patching. We seem to get kind of caught up about this time of year, and were able to do some other stuff. And now we've got three trucks, and can't stay caught up. The crews are working harder than they ever have, but it shows the condition of the roads overall are deteriorating so rapidly. If it continues this trend, we'll only be patching all year long."

"I've been in the road department almost 30 years, and I've never seen a time where there is any surplus of funds in the road department, and to be honest with you, I've seen it a lot worse than it is today," Broyles replied.

District IV Commissioner Dewitt Jackson then asked, "I think it's what, about $40,000 to reseal a mile of road, roughly?

"The actual cost on a single surface treatment is about $25,000, a lot of it depends on the width," Broyles answered. "A whole lot of this goes back to the hard freeze we had that destroyed about 300 miles worth of road. I think it was back in '07. A lot of these that we are patching today are those roads."

"The best thing we can probably do is plow up a bunch of these roads that we are constantly going out to patch. Those people can travel on a better road than what they are traveling on now, even if it didn't have a paved surface on it," said Broyles. "They're not just patching a little pothole, they're actually resurfacing a portion of road."

"You said it's about between $20 - $25,000 for a single surface, for maintenance surface, but since we don't have the funds, what we are winding up having to do is, the roads are deteriorating to the point, that we are having to dig them back up, put another base down, and having to resurface. How much does that total cost amount to?" Wootten asked.

Broyles replied: "When you reclaim a road, and put treated base material on it if you just count material cost, you are talking another $25,000 roughly."

"Again, you have to go with a double surface which is about $40,000, rather than the maintenance of $20 - $25,000. I say this just because this commission has been asking the state for more funding on roads for several years now, they continue to not come up with any. The longer we go, and I just want those numbers to be pointed out there. If we had the money to put a maintenance surface on these roads, it would costs $20 - $25,000, but because we don't, it's going to cost three times as much," said Wootten.

Wootten then elaborated, "Just so we understand, what I'm trying to get across here, the longer the state legislature waits on giving us more funds, every road that deteriorates to the point to where it has to be totally redone, that's three times what it would cost us. Every year they wait, every road mile that deteriorates, it's going to cost us $65,000.00, at current prices, they could be twice that in 10 years."

District III Commissioner Chris Kuykendall then commented: "This is almost the middle of May, since the first of the year, in District III, we have plowed up and reclaimed almost 6 miles of road, that was formally paid. They'll have a better road, and if funds become available, it will be paved and it will last, but it's a disgrace that this is our only option."

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