As Meriwether County moves forward with our comprehensive planning process, one of the major challenges will be transportation. A major topic of discussion in the planning process will be ways to increase funding to cover the ongoing road maintenance and repair.
This technique involves multiple applications over several days to complete, so if the road is being worked on today, please realize that is probably not the final product.
The first phase of the resurfacing project involves patching the failed sections to prevent road failure at that same location, followed by a leveling course to remove any uneven sections of the roadway before the final topping. The topping or riding course involves multiple layers of rock and tar, followed by a layer of sand and tar to finish the road. This resurfacing method offers excellent durability at a greatly reduced cost over conventional asphalt, resulting in additional miles of resurfacing.
Meriwether County has also looked at ways to improve the longevity of paving repairs which are made on an almost daily basis. Instead of just filling the hole with patching material, Meriwether County plans to start cutting the bad areas away from the hole, then applying the patching material. This method reduces the likelihood the area around the patch will unravel and create another failure. To assist with this process, Meriwether County has purchased a new patching machine. This machine will also provide crack sealing capabilities as well.
To address unpaved road maintenance, the county has purchased or leased additional motor graders, a skid steer loader, and other equipment to help with this task. New equipment means more reliability and less downtime working on equipment repairs.
New Right-of-Way tractors have also been purchased to provide greater reliability for right-of-way maintenance. To allow grass cutting crews more time to work on road right of ways, Meriwether County has contracted grass mowing at the Meriwether County Industrial Park, Lake Meriwether, and the Meriwether County Airport, at a very competitive price.
Funding road maintenance and repairs is one of the greatest challenges of most every county in Georgia, and Meriwether County is no different. Meriwether County works closely with Georgia Department of Transportation to maximize available transportation funds.
The 2017 LMIG Resurfacing Project is a $1,000,000 project with GDOT funding 70% with the remaining 30%, or $300,000, covered by Meriwether County SPLOST dollars.
The County is also working with GDOT on a road striping project to enhance safety for the traveling public. This program, like all GDOT programs, requires a local match. Maintaining sufficient local funding to provide the match dollars is important as the GDOT funding is not available if local governments cannot provide that match.
One of the questions Meriwether County receives most often, is when is my road going to be paved? The reality is that, until we can secure additional funding, we do not have the resources or finances to undertake a paving program.
Based on recent bids from other counties, the cost of paving a dirt road is about $500,000 per mile. Using that cost, Meriwether County's current available transportation funding allows us to resurface approximately 12 road miles per year. If that funding was redirected to exclusively pave dirt roads, we would only be able to pave 2 miles of road each year. That would eliminate our resurfacing program, resulting in the paved roads we currently have deteriorating over time and returning to dirt.
To give an idea of how staggering the cost of paving can be, consider the
Road maintenance is a continuous ongoing program that is never complete, but Meriwether County is taking steps to be as proactive as possible in addressing transportation issues.
If a county has 300 miles of dirt and gravel roads, at today's cost the funds needed to pave all the roads would be $150,000,000.
At our current funding level of $1,000,000 per year it would take 150 years to pave 300 miles
Some facts about our roads in Meriwether County
July 28, 2017
Like counties across the State of Georgia, one of the biggest issues faced by Meriwether County is ongoing Road and Transportation Maintenance.
Meriwether County is a large county with over 505 square miles of area and 850 plus miles of roadways. Approximately 50% of the roads are not paved.
Dirt and gravel road conditions can see change almost daily depending on the weather and traffic on the roadway. If the County works on the road today, that doesn't guarantee the road will be in good condition tomorrow. Meriwether County Public Work's Crews work on road maintenance almost every day year-round.
In the last 12 months, Meriwether County has spent $123,000 on gravel (300+ loads), $6,300 on pipe, and $5,300 on signs. That does not include the costs for labor, equipment, or fuel.
Many of our paved roads have not been resurfaced in many years due to the lack of sufficient funding. The original construction of most of the roads was a thin surface treatment of paving over a soil base. This was common practice in rural areas of Georgia. As these roads age, weather and traffic make them very susceptible to failure, resulting in pot holes and cracked sections of roadways.
Meriwether County has been very proactive in trying to address roadway maintenance despite the limited funding availability.
On paved roads, the county has utilized a different technique to address road resurfacing. Using a double surface treatment with a sand seal, the county has reduced resurfacing costs from $180,000 per mile to $94,000 per mile, which has allowed the county to resurface twice as many roads with the same funding.
Over the past couple of years Meriwether County has:
1. Implemented a new resurfacing process that has reduced cost from $180,000 to
$94,000 per mile.
2. Resurfaced more than double the road miles the last two years due to reduced costs from new paving methodology.
3. Worked closely with GDOT and State Officials to maximize state and federal funding coming to Meriwether County.
4. Purchased new equipment to help with maintenance of both paved and gravel roads.
5. Implemented a program ofhiring additional temporary personnel during the warmer months to perform additional roadmaintenance.
6. Looking at extending daily work hours for Public Work's employees to allow for more productivity on projects.
7. Recently implemented a program to report pot holes and needed road repairs online.
8. Continue to discuss funding options such as SPLOST, Transportation SPLOST, Grants, and how to maximize state and federal funding.
9. Ongoing training for Public Work's Employees on the latest trends and methods of road maintenance.
10. Working on ways to increase longevity of the road repairs, and methods to increase the life of the roadway
11. Looking at dust control options for gravel roads.