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County to drive forward on ash road repairs

POSTED: August 7, 2014 8:00 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners have approved a bid for repairs for nearly a dozen ash roads, but also are urging the contractor to exert traffic control measures to prevent cars from becoming damaged.

In a 5-0 vote, commissioners approved a contract with Littlefield Construction for just more than $1 million to repair nearly 20 miles of 10 county roads. But they also want the contractor to do a better job of controlling traffic through road work zones, since commissioners got complaints of drivers going through areas where asphalt had been laid down and the material stuck to their vehicles.

“Traffic control, or a total lack thereof, was the single-biggest problem we had,” Commissioner Steve Mason said. “We’ve got to have teeth in our contract for traffic control.”

Mason also said the county needed to insure there was quality control on the work done.

“There is no reason for these roads that we just treated, resurfaced and profiled to have water standing on them, a month after they finished,” he said.

Mason said there are failures on Laurel Tree Road and there are potholes on roads that have been redone recently.

“We’ve got to get a profile so they drain,” he added.

Interim county administrator Toss Allen said if he changes the scope of the contract that adds significant cost to the deal, the contractor may not honor his original price.

The first contract had a double surface treatment, Allen explained. Under this contract, roads will receive a third layer of surface treatment.

“It looks like asphalt,” he said.

The third layer also will help repeal water on the road better. The method used for this round of repairs will be similar to that used for the original approximately 16 miles earlier this year, beginning with regrinding the material and reprofiling the road. The difference will be the additional layer of surface treatment.

An example of the extra surface layer can be found on Courthouse Road Extension, Allen said, which was done at no extra charge.

This round of repairs encompasses about 20 miles of roads. Allen said the amount of miles or roads isn’t as much as a concern to the contractor as square yardage of material is.

“It is our intent to do these this calendar year,” Allen said. “We’ll stretch these as far as we can. We can add additional roads.”

The county wants to get the work on the ash roads started before the weather turns cold.

Littlefield Construction, out of Waycross, has 10 days to start after receiving the notice to proceed, and it has 120 days to complete the work.

“We need to go ahead and get started,” Commissioner Reggie Loper said.

The county has about 150 miles of ash roads, and there has been widespread damage over the last two winters, according to county officials. Not all ash roads have suffered damage, and the ones that are in need of repair are in subdivisions and also are rural arteries. Most of the damage has occurred in low-lying, heavily-shaded or poor drainage areas.

County staff has explored several options in fixing the problem roads involving mixing in different aggregates into the ash in order to stabilize it. While the solutions worked in ideal conditions, but those were difficult to replicate, and all the solutions were found to be expensive.

The public works department has had limited success in maintaining failing ash roads with a motor grader. The best solution has been to remove the ash completely and replace with traditional aggregate. But that is expensive on two fronts —the ash then has to be taken to a landfill, and the process is costly. It has been shown that mixing the existing ash base, smoothing the surface and creating a new road profile is much cheaper to do.

The ash road repairs were identified under the short-term work program, and special purpose local option sales tax proceeds will be used to fund the project.

One of the roads slated for repairs is Springfield-Egypt Road, and the volume of traffic on it surprised Mason.

“I never realized how much traffic was on that road,” he said. “I was just amazed.”

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