The River Region's Wave of the Future!
Article Source »
Elmore County Commission
The Wetumpka Herald
Article Source »
The article title poses a leading question. One might answer, “Well, it must be who you know or who lives on the road that dictates when a road gets resurfaced.” Someone else might think, “It’s all politics.” Still another might buy into the old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The following information is provided to help your understanding of the county’s resurfacing policy.
When it comes to road conditions, the truth is that very few of us see or drive all the roads in the county’s 1000-plusmile inventory. Most of us take familiar routes to work, church, school and shopping to name a few. Many of us travel on local county roads to get onto a state road or the interstate to complete our daily activities but we seldom have time to venture outside our normal routine to see the rest of the county.
In 2003, to compare roads accurately, the county began formulating a paved road inventory and grading system to evaluate pavement conditions of all its paved roads. Since then, County Highway Department engineering personnel evaluate the condition of all paved miles of county roads every two years. Currently our total paved road mileage is right at 800 miles. The Elmore County Highway Department uses the pavement condition scores along with traffic volumes to prioritize road repair needs, which dictates where the county’s limited road maintenance funds are applied.
To understand the county’s resurfacing program fully, background information related to the timing of executing the program is necessary. Normally, a program consists of approximately 18 months from conception to completion. In June each year, budget requests are submitted and finalized by month-end September. By Oct. 1 each year, exact dollar amounts available for Road and Bridge Funding (the only ad valorem source of revenue utilized by the County Highway Department - 2.5 mils of the total millage rate charged) is known and set aside for resurfacing and federal matching funds for the new fiscal year.
With funding set, a review is made of the county’s paved road inventory for roads grading at or below a 79. There are currently 263 miles of paved county roads that fall in this category. The total estimated cost to fix and/or upgrade these roads is over $ 35 million. All roads eligible for federal funding are isolated and prioritized separately from local roads. Approximately 25 percent of the county’s 800 mile paved road network is eligible for federal funding. Once the federally eligible routes are removed, local roads are evaluated for prioritization.
Historically, during a normal fiscal year, the county commission has been able to allocate $750,000 to $1 million to use for resurfacing local roads. This provided resurfacing for up to 15 miles; but given current asphalt prices, 10 to 12 resurfacing miles is a more realistic figure now. The variation in potential resurfacing mileage is directly related to asphalt prices, traffic volumes on the road and the proposed treatment for the specific roads selected. In addition to the paved road grades, traffic volumes and the amount of maintenance the County is performing to keep the road serviceable are considered in the selection process.
In late December/early January, the county commission is presented a culled list of roads, which they are asked to approve. This list of roads is called the County Funded Resurfacing List and includes recommended projects giving consideration to budget parameters. The county commission reviews the list and normally at a meeting in late January/February, the County Funded Resurfacing List is adopted.
The county highway department then completes inspections of the approved project sites and completes repairs and upgrades to the subject roadways. Examples of the types of repairs include replacing drainage pipes under the roadway, performing ditching and shoulder work to accommodate the resurfacing project and the removal of encroachments to name a few. This work is usually completed in the months from January to June.
By May, the county is preparing bid documents or putting into place mechanisms to utilize our annual paving contract. Analysis of these two methods are performed annually and depending on which mechanism benefits the county most in terms of maximizing the number of resurfacing miles, an option is selected and pursued. All work of this nature must be bid because they well exceed the state thresholds for public works contracts ($50,000) and the competitive bid law ($15,000).
Once the bid is awarded or annual paving bid executed, a notice to proceed is issued. The contractor is authorized to begin work on the sites and is monitored for quality control and assurance by county highway department personnel. This work normally lasts from June to October. When the work is completed and payment is made to the contractor, the county highway department is already well into the new year’s resurfacing cycle.
This article provides some insight into the timing and planning of Elmore County’s Resurfacing Program.
Part 2 will focus on the funding limitations that affect the county’s ability to address infrastructure needs.
If you have a county road related question or problem, please contact the Elmore County Highway Department at 567-1162.
© 2013 Elmore County Economic Development Authority. All Rights Reserved.