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Smoothing things out: Fiscal court approves use of state road and bridge funds

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 The only thing better than getting your road or bridge repaired is getting someone else to pay for those repairs. That’s exactly what Carter County fiscal court had in mind when they met in special session last week to approve a project utilizing state bridge funds and discuss requests for state road funds. 

The court approved a request to solicit bids for a low water bridge replacement on Appaloosa Lane. Judge executive Mike Malone explained that he has talked with property owners on the road, and examined the bridge, which is in a state of disrepair. 

“It has concrete breaking up on it,” Malone said of the bridge, which he explained is made up of various sizes of culvert embedded in concrete. 

He hopes to replace the crumbling concrete bridge with a different type of bridge, with larger openings, that would also help alleviate problems with debris piling up and blocking flow through the culverts. 

“I hope we can do an aluminum bridge,” he said. 

There are some issues with that plan. Because the creek has a solid rock bottom, rather than a sand and mud bottom, there could be some problems with securing the bridge, Malone said. That would be something that the contractor would have to address, but Malone thinks it could be done within budget. He told the magistrates that the repairs could be done with state money instead of county money too. Carter County is eligible for $80,000 a year in state bridge money, and he believes an aluminum bridge could be placed on Appaloosa Lane for $30,000 to $35,000, based on estimates he has received. 

The court also discussed state funding for paving, and applications for state discretionary funds for further road projects. While Malone said the county “may or may not” get the discretionary funding, they won’t get anything if they do not apply. He asked magistrates to give him their picks for discretionary funding projects in their districts. After that, he said, the next step would be to prioritize those potential projects, ranking them from highest to lowest priority and submitting their top four choices, or submitting them all and allowing the state to pick what they feel is the highest priority. In the past, he said, the county has allowed the state to pick. 

The county will also be receiving state funds for hot paving that will allow magistrates to pave approximately 3,000 feet of roadway per district. Those paving projects can be split up however the magistrates choose, but road crews recommended approaches and exits for those funds, because those are the areas of the roads that receive the most traffic and most damage. 

In related action, the court approved the expenditure of $12,000 for the purchase of an Ingersoll Rand paver for the road department. The paver runs on tires, instead of tracks, making it more versatile and maneuverable, Malone told the court. He said that road crew supervisor Jason Carroll and other road crew staff had looked at the paver and found it to be in good repair. 

“They felt it would do what we needed,” Malone said. 

The purchase of the paver also allows the county to make better use of the state funds provided for hot paving projects, Malone explained. 

“We can do the half mile (of paving per district that is currently planned) only because we’re laying it ourselves. It would be less (mileage) if we contracted it,” he said, adding it should pay for itself in a short time with those savings. 

The court also discussed districts that were shorted on state paving funds in the previous year. Malone said the court is dedicated to making sure each district gets their extra paving, but that it might have to be broken up over the course of two or three years, with districts getting half of their shorted mileage over two years, or a third per year over a three year period. 

In other action the court approved the transfer of $20,000 from the general fund to the jail fund. They also approved salary recommendations from the Sheriff’s department for three new hires the department hopes to make as well as the promotion of five part-time court security positions to full-time positions. The move, which will require an amended budget from the department, will allow Sheriff Jeff May to take advantage of an additional $600,000 allocated for his department’s budget last year while still keeping him under budget. 

The court also adopted a resolution authorizing the animal shelter to apply for an animal control grant. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com 

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