Carter County’s roads are in bad repair.
We know that just as well as anyone else in the county. We know because we’re out there driving on them. We’re driving on them to deliver newspapers to our retailers. We’re driving on them to go to events and to meet up for interviews.
We’ve seen the terrible state of our roads. It’s undeniable.
Some of them are in such disrepair, they are almost impossible to drive over in anything other than a four-wheel drive with extra clearance. That or you have to know the secret path that lets you get through without dragging the bottom of your car or getting hung up. It’s really that bad. And it’s that bad in multiple places.
But that isn’t because the road crews aren’t putting in the necessary work. What it ultimately comes down to is money, and Carter County needs more than it has to meet all of its roadwork needs. It’s not a problem unique to Carter County, but it is a significant problem here.
Carter County is a large county, and it has a lot of roads. At the same time, it’s a rural county, without a lot of industry. So, it doesn’t have a huge tax base. As judge executive Mike Malone has pointed out in the past, Carter County has hundreds of miles more county roads than neighboring Boyd County does. At the same time, Carter has a fraction of the tax base Boyd County has. This is why county roads in Boyd County can be maintained better than they can in Carter County.
It isn’t that Carter County doesn’t have the will, so much as it doesn’t have the means.
It’s not the fault of the county road crews either, who work diligently to repair what they can, with the resources available to them.
And they do work hard.
Carter County Road Supervisor Jason Carroll wasn’t available when we first reached out to him late last week as rising flood waters were leading to road closures and causing fresh damage. We wanted to know what roads were being impacted, but we couldn’t reach Carroll. We couldn’t reach him because he, and his crews, were already busy working on those roads, and inventorying the damage caused by the high waters.
He told the county fiscal court this week that they had more than 100 culverts get washed out or damaged during the two rain events last week. That’s in addition to slips, undermined and damaged asphalt, and other issues.
Despite all this work, Carroll was advocating for a plan this week that would allow the county to make good on their promised paving schedule while freeing his crews to focus on damage caused by the recent floods.
We know it has to be a frustrating, often thankless, job trying to keep up with all these repairs and satisfying the demands of citizens who, understandably, want their road issues addressed. When natural disasters throw yet another wrench into the works, it can’t be easy.
So, we want to take a moment to say a heartfelt “thank you” to the road crew, and to all county employees and first responders who helped keep folks safe during the flooding. Your work is appreciated.
Short of increasing gasoline taxes, and therefore what’s available through the Office of Rural Secondary Roads, there isn’t much more that can be done to secure the funding needed to repair all the damage to all the roads in the county any more quickly than those repairs are already being made.
But what we can do is say “thank you” to the road crews for doing their part to keep our roads open and passable. We appreciate all you do. Thank you.
We can also reach out to our elected officials – State Senator Robin Webb and State Representative Patrick Flannery, as well as Governor Andy Beshear’s office – and ask them to advocate for and/or grant our county additional road funding to deal with these emergency issues. Some of the money that is being spent on these road repairs may ultimately be reimbursable through FEMA or other programs designed to help communities experiencing natural disasters. But that money always comes after the repairs are made, and after the county has already expended the funds.
What the county needs is funding now. If you have a moment, call our reps and tell them we need their help.