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Rebuild Alabama funds to pave roads in Elmore County

Aug 08, 2023

Staff Writer

Some Elmore County roads will be repaved thanks to funds from Rebuild Alabama. In many cases the extra money is the only way the roads are repaved.

Without funds from the 2019 Rebuild Alabama Act, nearly 14 miles of roads in Elmore County would not be resurfaced in the next fiscal year.

Elmore County has about 1,000 miles of county roads including about 200 miles of dirt roads it maintains. The funding from Rebuild Alabama means an extra $1.8 million in work can be done to county roads and bridges in 2024.

“Without Rebuild Alabama, we wouldn’t be able to do this work,” Elmore County chief operations officer Richie Beyer said. “This money means more work gets done.”

Elmore County engineer Luke McGinty said the roads aren’t just chosen at random. Instead every county road is inspected every two years by the county’s engineering staff.

“Each individual road is graded based on certain criteria,” McGinty said. “All roads are graded the same way in eight different categories. We look at all those different aspects. We also pull maintenance reports looking at patching and edge repairs. We also look at traffic counts to see how many cars use the road.”

McGinty said staff grades the roads by looking at the condition of the road’s pavement or surface, striping, utility cuts, rutting, erosion and edge repairs.

“The edges will break because of large vehicles,” McGinty said. “Many of the roads were not built wide enough with substructure to handle heavier vehicles.”

Roads are selected from a list compiled in the process. Some roads in need of major repair do not make the list.

“They require more work than can be reasonably done,” McGinty said. “They require major work to the road’s base or structure.”

If a road gets selected to be resurfaced, it might not get the same treatment as another road. There are reasons behind that including saving money.

“The treatment depends on the traffic count,” McGinty said. “If it is a lower volume road, under 100 vehicles per day, we can get by just repairing the base failures and a chip seal. On higher volume roads like Redland Road, Rifle Range Road, we can’t get away with chip seal because it is higher speed and higher volume.”

County crews can handle what engineers call chip seal. Traditionally it is known as tar and gravel. Elmore County has the materials and equipment available for the chip seal resurfacing but asphalt is a different story. It requires more expensive equipment and the materials are also more costly.

“We try to do as much as we can inhouse because we can do it cheaper than a contractor,” McGinty said. “It stretches those funds out. We have to bid out asphalt paving.”

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McGinty said it currently costs about $85,000 per mile to apply 1-inch of asphalt to a 20-foot wide road. Just six years ago the cost was about $60,000 per mile.

McGinty said the worst road to be resurfaced by Rebuild Alabama in 2024 is about two tenths of a mile of Bond Drive off of Firetower Road. County crews will do some of the work and a contractor will install the asphalt afterwards.

“That surface is bad because the road is washed out,” McGinty said. We will repair the base work. We will do some cement work to the base. There will be some ditching to help with drainage. We will add some pipe and enlarge it. Then it will be resurfaced.”

Even with the county doing the lion's share of repair work to the base and ditches it will cost more than $26,000 to resurface it. McGinty said the county will spend that amount or more or materials and piping getting it ready for the asphalt contractor.

Other Elmore County roads to be resurfaced or striped under Rebuild Alabama in 2024 ar Chse Drive, Colley Camp Road, Coosa River Road, Gosum Pass Road, Gunnell Road, Hummingbird Lane, Indian Campground Road, Joe’s Fish Camp Road, Kowaliga Marina Road, River Fork Road, Thrasher Road, Whatley Drive, Yates Dam Road and Chalk Hill Road.

In some cases only a portion of the road will be resurfaced.

“We try to do the entire road if we can,” McGinty said. “If it is a long road, we might stop at a good stopping point like a bridge.”

McGinty said the Rebuild Alabama 2024 work includes five of the county’s 127 bridges on Friendship Road, Oak Valley Road, Old Salem Road and two on Rifle Range Road.

Bridge work usually includes concrete work around the pilings.

“Over time, creeks shift and change exposing our pilings,” McGinty said. “They wrap around it and encase it in concrete. It could extend the life of the bridge by 25 years by doing that.”

McGinty said in a perfect world funding wouldn’t be an issue and every road and bridge would be for the better.

“With limited funding we try to get the most for the money,” McGinty said. “In some cases it means we might not get the worst because of the expense to deal with the substructure. We try to take care of what we can the best we can. I think we do a pretty good job of it with the funding we have. We definitely are able to do more with Rebuild Alabama funding than without it.”

Staff Writer

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