Raleigh Road could go back to gravel, county commissioner warns residents
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink says the county doesn't have enough money to maintain several poorly built hard-surface roads.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 12, 2010) — One of the Western District’s hard-surfaced roads may have to be downgraded to gravel, Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink warned at Thursday morning’s Pulaski County Commission meeting.
The root of the problem, Zweerink said, is that many of the county’s roads were accepted by the commissioners without adequate attention being paid to road construction standards. According to longstanding county practice, private developers build roads and then maintain them for a year after turning them over the county; after one year, the maintenance becomes the county’s responsibility.
“This place was just growing and growing and growing, and it wasn’t really anybody’s fault, but a lot of stuff was accepted that just wasn’t right,” Zweerink said.
Raleigh Road is one example of that, he said.
“I tell you what, guys, that road is going to have to be torn out all the way and replaced with gravel. We can’t afford to rebuild a mile and a half of asphalt road,” Zweerink said.
Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said he’d like to see the county retain a qualified engineer to inspect the roads whose fees would be paid by the developers.
“If somebody wants to come in here and build a new road for a subdivision, a lot of the roads that we’ve taken in the past were substandard,” Farnham said. “We’ve had to go back and do some extensive work on things we shouldn’t have had to do.”
Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch asked how that would work.
“So your proposal is that if somebody wants to put in a new subdivision they should hire an engineer to do the roads?” McCulloch asked.
Farnham said the county should hire the engineer and charge fees to the developers to pay the bill rather than just accepting a report from an engineer hired by the developer.
“Say somebody was going to build houses and put in five roads. The engineer would determine how much it would cost to inspect them and charge him,” Farnham said. “That way we wouldn’t down the road have a road given to the county that falls in six months later.”
County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer asked how that could be enforced since Pulaski County has no planning and zoning ordinances.
That’s not an issue, Farnham said.
“You could post this at the local electric cooperative and other places that after so and so date, the county will follow certain road standards,” Farnham said. “I’m just trying to protect the county in the long run; it’s not trying to create a hardship for anyone.”
“I wish this had been done 20 years ago,” Farnham said. “I’ve been trying to fix a lot of the chip-and-seal roads around here … I’m not advocating planning and zoning so nobody should think that, I’m just advocating a better road system.”
McCulloch said he liked the idea since even though it would add fees to the developer’s costs, it could avoid problems by requiring inspections of roads that might become the responsibility of the developer if they fall apart prior to the one-year road acceptance period.
“This should help the developers, too,” McCulloch said.
While many of the county’s road problems are caused by old and worn-out roads rather than roads that were built by substandard construction practices, Farnham said residents don’t know or care why their road isn’t in good condition — they just want it fixed.
Sometimes residents even want their roads fixed before the snow clears, he said.
“These people don’t understand that you can’t grade the gravel roads until the snow clears. (One woman) called me and was all upset that there are potholes in her road with snow and ice still on it, and she said the front end of her car is all bent out of shape,” Farnham said.
Not everyone who comes to talk to county road workers is upset, however.
“We had one person who brought us a homemade plate of cookies, donuts and homemade rolls because we were working on his road,” Zweerink said. “This guy who got out of the car was a huge man, I mean huge, and when (road workers) saw him get out of the car they said, ‘Boy, I hope he’s not mad,’ but then he brought them the donuts.”