County Commission to consider $3 million bond issue to beef up paving

 

The Franklin County Road and Bridge Committee passed a resolution Thursday for a $3 million bond issue for the highway department to do some much-needed roadwork.

The committee’s recommendation will be considered later by the full County Commission and included in upcoming discussions about the 2014-15 fiscal year budget.Road-Story

If approved, the funds would be split among four districts according to the percentage of road miles in each district.

The resolution heads to the Finance Committee on Tuesday. If passed, it will go on to the full commission for consideration on April 21.

The Franklin County Highway Commission brought the matter to the Road and Bridge Committee following discussion at a recent Highway Commission meeting about deteriorating and dangerous road conditions throughout the county.

Franklin County Highway Superintendent Johnny Woodall summed up the situation.

 “The Highway Commission has made a list of roads in their districts that they would like to see resurfaced as soon as possible, additionally several residents along these roads have asked to have some kind of surface put down on these roads to protect their vehicles from damage,” he said.

About 35 residents from Norwood Creek and other areas in Franklin County were present at Thursday evening’s Road and Bridge Committee meeting to express their concerns to commissioners.

Norwood resident Steve Cope said, “I’ve lived on Norwood Creek for 40 years and the road’s the worst I’ve ever seen. It was better back when it was gravel.”

Other residents spoke up about safety concerns and damage to their vehicles. One resident who lives on the road said that people drive on the wrong side of the road and off the shoulder of the road to avoid potholes.

“I’ve seen people almost hit head-on. The road is so bad I hold my breath all the time thinking there is going to be an accident,” Norwood resident Becky Smith said.

Commissioner Chuck Stines said it goes beyond that.

“Its not just the Norwood Road, its across the county,” he said. “Everyone on the committee is pretty much in agreement that we have to do something.

“We have got to have infrastructure and we gotta work on this thing.”

Franklin County Mayor Richard Stewart recommended that the county look at a bond issue to cover funding for road maintenance and repair.

“We had a $6 million bond issue several years back that has just been paid off,” he said. “If we look at using the funds that were set aside for that payment to pay for the new bond issue, we could do this without raising taxes.

“I just don’t see us getting a bond issue passed if we have to raise taxes to do it. This needs to be done, I believe we can find a way to do this without raising taxes.”

Resident Billy Rose told commissioners that he would be willing to vote for a wheel tax if the funds went to fix the roads, some others were in agreement.

Stewart recommended that funding be distributed to road commissioners dependent upon the number of miles of roads in their respective districts.

District

Road Commissioner

Percentage of miles of road in district

2

Chuck Tipps

15%

1

Joe David McBee

17%

4

Rodney Hill

25%

3

Bobby Clark

43%

According to the resolution, the district road commissioners would be in charge or prioritizing what roads get resurfaced first. Road commissioners would consider the condition of the road and frequency of travel down the road among other factors in making those decisions.

Superintendent Woodall said the cost of resurfacing roads continues to rise and will only cost the county more the longer it waits.

“As you know the costs of resurfacing has escalated in price per mile to the point that the Highway Department can no longer keep up good maintenance on some roads,” Woodall said. “Something needs to be done to ensure the safety of motorist. This is why we are trying to get help from the county commission to save these roads.”

It costs an estimated $140,000 to pave one mile of road. With around 700 miles of roads in Franklin County, the $3 million requested would cover only a fraction of the overall paving.

Officials from the Highway Department say the bond issue would be a good start, but long-range funding plans need to be in place to maintain county infrastructure in the future.

Residents concerned with road conditions and infrastructure are encouraged to attend upcoming meetings including the Franklin County Finance Committee meeting on April 8 at 8:30 a.m. at the Franklin County Annex Building on Dinah Shore Boulevard, and the Franklin County Commission Meeting on April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse.


Posted on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 6:04 am