Change in grading, materials recommended by committee
Changes in road materials, grading practices and adoption of a more “business like” planning system, were among the many recommendations to improve unpaved roads presented to county commissioners Monday.
The 18-page report was presented by Allen Dark, secretary of the 10-person Milam County Road Committee, which was appointed earlier this year in the wake of numerous complaints about unpaved roads.
Dark said the committee met eight times, toured county roads and interviewed area residents. All 10 of its members live on unpaved county roads.
The report’s top priorities include restoring and maintaining an adequate crown on all unpaved roads.
“Milam County roads have normally been graded flat, without a crown down the center line,” it states. “This is a poor practice.”
The report calls for a five-inch crown down the center, noting that crowns aid drainage.
“Many sections of the roads in Milam County have poor drainage,” it states. “Milam County roads perform well when dry but perform poorly after rains, mainly as a result of poor grading practices, poor quality surface materials and poor drainage.
“Most of the roads have no functioning drainage ditches along the sides of the roads,” the report states.
The report notes pit-run gravel is most often used for the driving surface of unpaved roads in the county.
“(Pit-run gravel) is not screened and it is often short on binder materials such as clay,” the report states. “(It) frequently contains boulders and sharp stones which make proper grading difficult.”
In its recommendations section, the report notes a Lamar County commissioner reported he built a heavy-duty screen for around $2,000.
The report urged a master plan for roads and states “road planning should start with a complete inventory of the roads.” It also found there are approximately 800 miles of county roads and about 90 percent are unpaved.
The report calls for a more “businesslike” plan for road maintenance issues.
“At the present time it appears precincts often deploy resources to solve whatever problem is more pressing at the moment,” the report states. “Sometimes the deployment is in response to complaints from citizens.
“This reactionary decision making methodology may work in the short term to deal with a crisis but is probably not the most efficient way to make decisions for the long-term improvement and maintenance of the county roads.
“It appears that the county is caught in a cycle of spending more and more in a frustrating effort to maintain roads with poor surface materials when the roads are not in the proper structural condition to begin with.”
The committee asked for a workshop with commissioners and the public to discuss the report.
Committee members are Al Atkins, Allen Dark, Jack Cook, Randy Simcik, Edwin Maas, Steve Urban, Gary Morgan, Byron Wise, Keith Fisher and Johnnie Demsky.