By Sid Riley
At a special workshop on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 which was held in an effort to develop a satisfactory approach to a paving plan for the hundreds of miles of unpaved roads that criss-cross our county, the five commissioners struggled to find the appropriate approach.
The commission has been engaged in an aggressive repaving program for several years, using the state FDOT SCRAP program as the funding source.
One aspect of the problem is the limited inflow of available funds for new paving. The county can only plan on having approximately $2 million dollars per year available from the 1.5 cent sales tax revenues. At existing costs, this level of revenue will only accomplish a relatively small amount of new paving each year.
The first problem is determining how to set paving priorities. Should priorities be based on traffic usage? Or number of homes on the roadway (density)? Should the funds be spent on paving a stated number of miles in each of the five districts? Or should the funds all be spent in one district each year on a rotating basis? Should the allocation of paving in a district be based on a stated number of miles per project? Or should the allocation criteria be based on a certain amount of expenditures per project? (Since the cost per mile can vary greatly on a project, depending on soil and road bed conditions.)
A paving priority list was developed about five years ago, but the commissioners feel that usage and population shifts may have occurred that would make this data inaccurate in some instances. Commissioner Pittman made it plain that his road of preference is Sylvania Plantation Road, and Commissioner Lockey stated his road of choice in his district is Bump Nose Road. Branch discussed a portion of Old Spanish Trail and Compass Lake Drive in his district, and Crutchfield talked of Bethlehem Road.
This situation is further compounded by the fact that our Commissioners are selected by district instead of "at large" from the entire county. This system makes each commissioner seek benefit for his portion of the county instead of what might be best for the county overall. Also, some districts have many miles more of unpaved roads than other districts. Finding a solution that will satisfy everyone is very difficult.
The results of the workshop were:
- Each Commissioner will designate one road as the road of choice within their district.
- The county staff will conduct studies on each of these five roads to determine traffic count, home density, and other relevant data.
- The Commissioners will use this data to finalize a paving priority listing.
- The Commissioners will develop a paving plan based on these priorities.
- AND ROAD PAVING IN THE COUNTY WILL BEGIN.