All of the rain this summer - Pct. 3 Commissioner Heath Sims measured more than 40 inches at his house - has created problems for county roads.
Sims said Pct. 3 is doing its best to fix the problems now and keep them from occurring again in the near future.
To accomplish that, Pct. 3 workers are doing a process called cement stabilization, which means putting down a layer of concrete slurry, which is a water and concrete mixture, on top of the road’s base and under the road’s surface, acting like a house’s foundation.
Wednesday morning, construction workers were laying down cement stabilizer on Oak Branch Road, a process Sims said increases a road’s life and load capacity.
Three years from now, workers will go back to the roads with cement stabilization and add another layer of protection.
“We will come back to these roads in 2010 and give them fog sealing,” Sims said. “It is a small ventilator of emulsion which seals up fine cracks, which will prevent more cracking and rejuvenate the roads by making them more pliable.”
Pct. 3 worker Jonathan Blundell expanded on the topic of fog sealing.
“Fog sealing helps maintain the top of the road so moisture stays away from it,” Blundell said. “When water gets in there it can expand and cause cracks in the road.”
The precinct is also using a traffic counter, the first precinct in the county to do so, to measure how many vehicles travel on each road.
The intersection of Oak Branch Road and Old Buena Vista Road recorded the second most amount of traffic counts per week with 9,289. Singleton Road had the most counts per week in the precinct with 9,793.
Precinct officials have also created a way to experiment with road types under normal traffic situations.
“We have set out a section of roads with normal traffic to see what is going to be best in our situation,” Blundell said. “Right now, we think concrete works best, but if limestone works best or if a chemical reaction works best, we want to be able to switch to the other one.”
Another effort that Pct. 3 is taking to prevent future problems is the use of GPS technology.
“Using GPS I can go out and mark all the culverts and bridges,” Blundell said. “We can map out where we have dirt roads, concrete roads or asphalt. This way we can see what we have got out here from the office.”
GPS will be used to make a map of the area in the precinct, but Sims has another use for the system in the future.
“We want all of our equipment to have GPS on it,” Sims said. “I want to do this so we know exactly how we are using our equipment and so we can keep better work records.”
Using this system will help the precinct take the next step in catching problems before they happen.
“We have got to pull our heads out of the 18th century and look at things with vision and foresight,” Sims said. “We have got to fix our roads in a manner that will reduce the need for maintenance and will increase the lifespan of our roads.”
The commissioner said he is working hard on getting the roads better because he feels that the commissioners as a whole have not been doing enough.
“We are not doing anything to improve on what we have,” Sims said. “All we are doing is the status quo and the status quo is not good enough. We have got to start doing things different.”
One way to accomplish that is to get the commissioners’ prior ities straight, Sims said.
“We need to do the work to get a policy in place to help us know the when, where and why of our roads,” Sims said. “We are having to prioritize and not just paint the roads black just to get someone to vote for us.”
The commissioner said if the roads stay in poor shape for an extended period of time, they could hurt more than cars.
“If the roads are too bad we begin hurting the economy,” Sims said. “It could effect how many times people go into town or go to the grocery store. This country was developed on the roads, we have dropped the ball on our founding fathers.”
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