Money, plan key to better roads

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 1999

The maintenance and care of the roadways and bridges of Butler County are one of the most important responsiblities given to the Butler County Commission and the Butler County Road Department. Both groups have been working deligently over the past few years to overcome weather and financial hardships in order to keep the roads safe for residents and visitors alike.

All five commissioners: Gary Hanks, Leroy Johnson, Tex Kervin, Joe Hendrix and Daniel Robinson were elected into office in 1996. Since that time they have continued to learn more about their responsibilities to the constituents of their own districts, as well as residents across the entire county. They realize that the condition of roads is always a concern.

The main problem with some of the roads that need work comes down to a matter of money. Butler County receives $500,000 each year from the federal government to be spent on the county's major roads and bridges. This money cannot be used for dirt roads or routine maintenance

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Managing the money they do have is a key to better roads and bridges. The commission made good decision in regards to the money furnished by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after floods and Hurricane Georges ripped through the county almost two years ago. Instead of simply bandaging these bridges (some of which were in dire need of attention before the rains) that had been damaged during these storms, they opted to use the money to repair or totally reconstruct. This should prove to save the county money in the long run.

However, the commission should do more to bring extra dollars into the county for our roads, bridges and buildings. Their are many grants available that, if applied for, could be taken advantage of.

A five-year plan that has been discussed at meetings would be a great achievement for this commission.

Pinpointing roads and bridges that need to be worked and then prioritizing those projects would prove to be a great benefit to the citizens, the road department and themselves.

County Engineer Dennis McCall and his crews at the road department should be commended for their hard work over the past few years. They have completed a majority of those sites damaged by bad weather and are attempting to get back into a routine and pick up on maintenance jobs and other projects across the county that have fallen behind.

The commissioners know the problems that face this county. Nothing is fixed overnight, especially something as expensive as road and bridge repairs. Roads are a major concern for this commission. But, unfortunately, so is time and money.