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Potential road changes questioned

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some Clay County residents attended the Clay County Commissioners meeting Monday to express concerns of the possible chances of some county roads being changed back to gravel roads. One of the roads in question was County Road 300 East. Jason Moon Photo. [Order this photo]
* Commissioner says reverting to gravel is a last-ditch option

Potential changes to some county roads had residents questioning the Clay County Commissioners.

During Monday's meeting, residents voiced concerns and disapproval of the possibility of certain roads being reverted back to gravel.

Oak Ridge Golf Course Owner Jim Metz presented a petition signed by 210 customers and members who are against the change.

"Our employment is down and so is our membership," Metz said about his business, adding the change would negatively affect other residents along County Road 300 East.

Greta Johnson, who lives on County Road 500 East (near the Parke County line) expressed her displeasure with a potential gravel road, but understood blacktop may not be an option at this time.

"I have asthma, and I don't want to see the road back to gravel, but I am OK with patching and chip and seal," she said. "The road is in horrible shape, but I just really don't want it to be gravel."

Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said reverting a road back to gravel is the final alternative in determining how to repair a road.

"Gravelling a road is our Plan Z, which we only consider when everything else won't work," he said. "If we can maintain what we have without turning to gravel, that's what we'll do."

Commissioner Jack Withers informed those in attendance how small of a budget there is for road work and repairs.

Jack Withers
"If I remember right, our budget for roads last year was about $240,000," he said. "Once you take out the costs for oil and other supplies for patching, the commissioners only have about $50,000 apiece for their individual districts. With it costing between $60,000-$80,000 to blacktop a mile of road, the money doesn't go very far."

Brown added the funding has decreased drastically in recent years.

"When I first started as commissioner about six or seven years ago, each district had about $200,000 available for road work, and now it's down quite a bit," he said.

Commissioner Paul Sinders said road funding comes strictly from the gas tax, which is set at a static amount regardless of fuel prices.

"It doesn't matter if the price of gas is $2 a gallon or $4, the rate is the same per gallon, so it doesn't increase like the price for gas," Sinders told the audience. "Another issue is while our funding for the roads is decreasing, the cost of the materials for the upkeep and maintenance are going up."

Withers said another major factor affecting county roads is the increased loads carried by semis.

"Years ago, the average truck load was about 10-15 tons, and now there are a lot of 40-ton trucks, which just tear the roads apart," he said. "Reverting certain roads back to gravel has been suggested by the Highway Department, but that's not necessarily going to happen."

Sinders added, "I would like to see some of the roads that had been chip and sealed at some point, on roads with no one living on them, be reverted back to gravel. But right now, we are looking into what other options are available for restoring the roads that fit into our budget."

Another resident approached the commissioners about posting a speed limit sign on County Road 950 North, near the intersection with Kennedy's Crossing Road.

"When school lets out, that road becomes a regular racetrack with cars going 60-70 mph, and some of them even get into the yards," Jack Elder told the Commissioners. "It's not always the kids being reckless, but there are times where people are riding their bikes in the road and there is a big concern for safety. The road itself is in bad shape, but what we are after is the speed limit."

Elder did not suggest a limit, but stated the road is currently unposted meaning the state statute of 55 mph would be in effect.

The commissioners agreed to conduct the necessary engineering study on the road in order to create a speed limit ordinance that differs from state statutes.

The next meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be 9 a.m., Monday, May 2, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.

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If they turn back to gravel, I see alot of people going into the ditch. Open ditches on each side is a accident looking to happen. Snow plows can not plow the road or so they said last year. Windshield repair or replacement would go up from tires throwing rocks. Only large trucks are required mud flaps, which are useless if only part of them are down to the end of the tire.

-- Posted by smallguysmalltown on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 5:40 AM

There is still a sales tax on gas and that goesup whenthe price goes up. Tell your state rep about replacing gas tax with sales tax. The state is balancing their budget by returning less to us.

-- Posted by grays on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 8:13 AM

To add to what SMALLGUY said .. I remember gravel roads and the graters that would fill in the holes .. nearly every time that grater went through, I'd end up with a nail or tack in my tire.

Not sure what the answer is .. but I hope they find one that involves something other than gravel.

-- Posted by Emmes on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 11:40 AM

Same old stuff...candidates get voted in to do a job...they try to do it with the limited budgets they now have to work with...many people (voters) think they should be able to do all this wonderful stuff without costing more...the elected folks get blamed for their lack of paving roads or just being "inept"...and the voters get mad and elect someone else who will do the same thing.

People, you don't get services for nothing. Why is anyone surprised that when taxes are decreased that schools, roads, services are cut?

These commissioners are all quality people doing the best they can. If they are wasting money, point it out, and be specific. If you can't, then thank them for their service to their community and understand they are frustrated as anyone.

-- Posted by ClayCountyGuy on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 11:49 AM

Great statistical information Misters Brown, Sinders and Withers, I hope they are accurate.

Mr. Withers, posting and enforcement of a lower weight limit, with exception permits being issued sparingly, might slow the deterioration process, wouldn't it?

Mr. Sinders, are there many county roads that no one lives on? If so, maybe close or limit traffic on those roads to emergency vehicles, then enforce it. Possible?

Regarding the speed limit on CR 950 N.; It is difficult to believe they never addressed the issue of a speed limit when the school was being sited. Maybe research into the state law regarding speed limits within the vicinity of schools might reveal a solution. If needed, once a county ordnance has limited the speed and they install signs, enforcement will do either of two things: slow violators down or add to the county coffers (speed limit violation fines). Correct?

Ok, now you (and other readers) are thinking all this additional enforcement will cost the county money. It is my opinion and observation that an active, well staffed Reserve Officer Program will do several things. This program allows full time Officers to attend to the day to day duties and business of enforcing laws while providing a law enforcement presence in the community, establish a pool of qualified and motivated individuals to draw from at the time of need and it provides excellent training for officers of tomorrow. I believe the state gives some assistance the costs incurred by the program. If we can't get tax money from the state fro road maintenance then get it another way. Expanding the present reserve program would be an investment in the county's future. Does anyone agree? CAB

-- Posted by CAB (Concerns About Brazil) on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 12:33 PM

Seems that a lot is riding on that road not becoming gravel...Several businesses as well as residents who in good faith invested in property on a paved road...What would this change do to the value of their property?

Seems that county commissioners and the rest of the people of Clay County and Brazil need to put their thinking caps on and figure out ways to bring in revenue.

Some thoughts that come to mind are:

1]Post those speed limit signs and then send out law enforcement to bring in a quota so both revenue is coming in and laws being adhered to..including those dirt bikes, ATVs and even those golf carts I see crossing 59 near the armory at times. I have had more than one pull out in front of me like the road is their private driveway.

2] Get dog licensing regulations on the books to bring in $10 or so per neutered dog in the county/city and start some hefty fines for those that aren't licensed, leashed, and immunized for rabies.

3] Trim down a few of the "perks" the city subsidizes like greens fees at its public golf course and have those fees in line with local going rates so the taxpayers aren't subsidizing people's golf games instead of the money going to streets and sidewalks.

4]Do traffic check points for both proper driver licensing and taxed fuel in vehicles used on the road to make sure all who use the roads are using the proper fuel and not the off road fuel which should be only used in fields. That fuel does not support the roads as far as I know. I know in some states the fuels are colored differently so this is easily accomplished.

There I am, one person....certainly we can each come forth with ideas to save/make our community money so it doesn't totally die. If we don't there are going to be less and less businesses and people and even lower revenue.

Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 12:47 PM

I live in Parke Co. on a road that was changed to gravel in the 70s or 80s. It is awful. We have a lot of traffic - some not so slow - it creates huge waves of dust when it is dry, muddy messes when it rains, and the snow plow shoves the gravel into our yards which in turn dulls our mower blades, not to mention the rocks can hit someone or put a hole in your siding. Also, when it gets too wet there are times the school buses are not allowed on it. Gravel wears our tires out quicker. The ruts ruin our car's suspension so in the end it costs the homeowner more money. You also need to change our air filters etc.. more often. Might save the county money but not the homeowners that live on these gravel roads.

-- Posted by indianamama on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 2:47 PM

Yes I would think that the property value would drop if switched from paved to gravel road access...Then in turn would lower revenue even more so not really a viable solution....In reality our property taxes TOO low...Where else have costs almost been cut in half over past 15 years when all other things have kept going up in price? Just not viable.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 5:31 PM

There are some really good ideas on here folks! Why not attend one of the meetings and present them to the council people. Just an FYI...Clay County Councilman Brian Wyndham's old place is on that road just east of the golf course. Maybe he can help.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 5:33 PM

Sure sounds like many respondents agree that more research needs to be done on this issue.

REMEMBER, at the next meeting (9a.m. on a Monday), this could be one step closer to becoming policy. Contact your county representatives (all of them) and voice your concern.

Proud of My Country, here, here on citizens attending meetings, both county and city.

Everyone remember, The next meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be 9 a.m., Monday, May 2, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse. CAB

-- Posted by CAB (Concerns About Brazil) on Wed, Apr 6, 2011, at 8:10 PM

Note to all posters: Property tax money is not and cannot be used on the roads. All money used to repair roads comes from the 18 cent per gallon tax on gasoline, and license fees paid on your vehicle plates. That's it! Part of the problem for local government is that the 18 cent tax is a fixed fee and does not go up with the price of gas. Therefore, when the price of gas goes thru the roof as it has recently, people who can, cut back on their driving and less money is generated. The only way our County Commissioners are going to receive a sustantial increase in road funding is if the County Council passes a wheel tax.

-- Posted by open minded on Thu, Apr 7, 2011, at 1:31 PM

Why did brazil pave over or tear out all the brick roads?? I just wonder what the life of a brick road is compared to asphalt.i'm sure it would cost more but prolly be cheaper and look better in long run

Go back to brick in the city

-- Posted by chevybutts on Thu, Apr 7, 2011, at 6:45 PM

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