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County approves fix for problem ash road

POSTED: May 20, 2011 10:01 a.m.

Effingham County Commissioners approved a bid Tuesday evening to remove the ash from Forest Haven Road and resurface the woeful strip with asphalt.

The county had been waiting on test results from potential ash road mixtures to decide how to address blighted ash road. Preliminary findings from the test showed samples from this particular road varied in contents from sample to sample.

“Pointing to the fact that we have hardly any consistency in this ash,” said county civil engineer Toss Allen.

Although an alternative mixture would have saved nearly $30,000, commissioners accepted a bid from R.B. Baker for $291,895 to mend Forest Haven Road. They concluded that the guaranteed fix of traditional asphalt would be the best option to patch this stretch rather than the tested ash mixture to avoid potential future costs of repair or eventual resurfacing to the road.

“I in no way believe that is a viable option for all 240 roads,” said Allen. “They have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. On this one particular road, it may just very well be a viable option just to remove and replace.

“We feel like we have space at the landfill that we can use this material from road that’s out there now. Certainly this is not an option going forward. We’re definitely going to have to do these other methods.”

Forest Haven Road was prioritized after resident complaints and after its condition was deemed one of the worst of all the ash roads in the county.

Final results from the testing on Forest Haven showed that an ash road mixture would require 70-75 percent reduction in rock atop the road and adding varying amounts of asphalt and cement.

“We basically tried a bunch of different methods to get a pattern, to see which ones work,” Allen said. “They varied certain things that they put into this stuff and they were looking to get a constant to see which one produced the best results and now that they feel like they’ve narrowed it down they’re starting a whole new batch with just that constant.”

“And it’s interesting that their recommendation is very similar to what we were talking about doing,” said Commissioner Steve Mason of the preliminary findings. “It’s changing the amount of aggregate we’re adding to it and lessening that and adding another product.”

Mason said that he was not in favor of testing the ash mixture on a mile-long road. He and other commissioners emphasized finding a smaller site for the complete test.

“I’m personally in favor of going forward with the staff recommendation of doing what we know will create a proper road for this road and using our test for another road,” said Commissioner Vera Jones. “Let’s designate another road that we think is appropriate for that and do that at that time.”

“I hate to test on a mile road,” Mason said, “but I do think that we need to find this location that we’re going to do this test on and do it on a 200-300 foot section.”

“We have plenty of those that are limited in scope,” said Allen.

Final results from the substances testing are expected Tuesday. A location for a complete test has not been determined.

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