Road repair bill won’t help much

Published 1:21 pm Monday, May 10, 2010

A road repair bill up for vote in November would do little to help Butler County, said local officials.

County Engineer Dennis McCall said the legislation – which would fund $1 billion in repairs over the next decade – would mean between $200,000 to $215,000 in new funding for the county.

If approved by voters, $100 million would be taken annually from the state’s oil and gas trust fund to repair roads across the state.

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“The amount of money will not make any impact whatsoever…other than possibly funding a road striping project,” said Commissioner Frank Hickman (Dist. 3). “The benefit will be minimal. The problem is going to be the perception that the road problem has been fixed, when it hasn’t.”

To put the funding in perspective, McCall said asphalt costs average an estimated $100,000 per mile. He said the funding could cover the county’s mowing costs on its 550 miles of roads for a year.

“It might put down one mile of resurfacing,” said Hickman.

Additionally, McCall said the engineer’s office is just now starting to see the effects of a hard freeze that hit the county in January. Those arctic temperatures coupled with heavy flooding in December are eroding the base of many roads, said McCall.

“The paved road system is where we’re really suffering,” said McCall.

The county requested $300,000 in emergency aid through the federal government, but McCall said FEMA denied the request, as it did with several other counties across the state dealing with weather-related damage to roads.

“We have appealed through the Association of County Commissioners, but we don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” he said. “There was some pretty significant and big numbers up north, but in our situation it was some isolated spots…there’s no cheap repair for those spots, because you’re dealing with the base of the road.”

McCall said the county’s dirt road system is actually holding up well, considering the amount of rain that has fallen in the area.

In other business, the commission:

Approved an off-premise wine and beer license for E&R Grocery.

Approved the appointment of Ann Killough to replace Estelle Womack on the Department of Human Resources board.

McCall said an eight-mile widening and leveling project of County Road 15 should start on or near June 1. The project will cost $846,000.