Many Crenshaw County roads still in need of repairs

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, January 14, 2016

While much of Crenshaw County continues to recover in the aftermath of the Christmas storms, many citizens continue to wonder about the needed repairs of the county dirt roads. According to Benjie Sanders, County Engineer, the Crenshaw County Highway Department continues to check on these affected roads daily.

“Our priority right now is working on roads that were damaged by the rain, and we’ll continue to be doing that,” said Sanders.

In the event of wash out situations, as was seen with many of the dirt roads in Crenshaw County, materials must be brought in to refill and holes or missing area. In the event of structural damage, pipes may need to be replaced as well as bridges repaired.

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“We had couple of bridge structures where the bridge is just sitting out on an island with no dirt around it,” said Sanders.

He and his department continue to check on damaged structures with the help of the Crenshaw County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and the groups have also collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue the process of building back these much needed roads.

“We’ve had all of the joint preliminary assessments done, I believe our number county wide was about 387,000, and we got those numbers submitted,” said Elliott Jones, Crenshaw County EMA director.

At a later date, a kick-off meeting involving FEMA, county engineers and EMA directors from surrounding counties will be held. This meeting will allow these officials to come together to assess each damaged area.

“After that meeting, we start fixing stuff,” said Jones. “It’s a 75/25. The federal government gives 75 percent and then we have to match the 25 percent,” said Jones.

Overall, there were 20 roads across Crenshaw County that received large amounts of weather damage over the Christmas holiday. Of these 20, only nine remain closed: Swanner Bridge Road, Honey Jones Creek Road, Parker Creek Road, Burnout Road, Kilcrease Road, HJ Jacobs, Powell Road, Friendship Road and Mitchel Road. While a few paved roads suffered minimal damage, the roads mostly affected were county dirt roads, which suffered greatly from the torrential downpours.

The majority suffered from wash outs and will require added materials for rebuilding; some will even require drainage pipes and debris removal. While the numbers are not set in stone, Sanders estimates that the repairs are needed but might be costly. Bridges that suffered, such as on Honey Jones Creek Road will need materials added back to it as well as to have the bridge abutments replaced. Abutments serve as the structures that support the lateral pressure of an arch or span at the ends of a bridge.

It is estimated, but not official, that repairs such as these could cost up to $20,374.51, while smaller projects such as adding materials to combat the wash out on Friendship Road are estimated at only $606.51. Sanders knows that the rural community is in desperate need of having these dirt roads repaired, and he hopes to continue to serve the county in any way he can. “Primarily, we’re just putting the roads back the way they were and we’re replacing the material that was washed away,” said Sanders.