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County OKs surveying on troubled ash road
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A precursor to improvements on one of Effingham County’s most severely damaged ash roads has been cleared, as commissioners approved a contract with EMC Engineering to conduct surveying of Courthouse Road Extension.

County public works engineer Toss Allen said there are 31 parcels to survey in order to determine the acreage needed to buy and to get the plats for the rights-of-way.

“This is about only the second thing we’ve hired a surveyor to do,” Allen said.

In assessing how to fix Courthouse Road Extension, the recommendation is a complete reconstruction.

“The problem with the ash on this road is you can’t maintain it,” Commissioner Steve Mason said.
Mason also suggested that the road be reverted to dirt. But other commissioners pointed out how heavily traveled Courthouse Road Extension is.

“It’s pretty much the east-west corridor across the county,” said Commissioner Bob Brantley.

Added Allen: “It’s quite a bit of traffic that’s on that road.”

Commissioner Vera Jones, in whose district Courthouse Road Extension lies, urged fellow commissioners to go forward with at least this step.

“I’m in favor of doing the survey because we have a lot of road work, and we have to get started somewhere,” she said. “I think we should move forward with it.”

Getting the surveying done doesn’t mean road work is imminent. The county could have the surveying done and draw up plans and have them ready in case more state funding becomes available in the future.

“We have projects we have been working on,” said County Administrator David Crawley. “Since we’re doing a large portion of the design in house now, it’s just our time and effort.”

Aside from construction of the road, much of the rest of the work can be done in-house, Allen and Crawley said.

“Once we get the survey work, the idea was to do the topographic and location survey in house,” Allen said, “and we can do the alignments to see what we would have to acquire. This will be the only one in the immediate future to require survey work.”

The county originally sent out requests for qualifications last summer but the low bidder then isn’t performing survey work now, Allen said.

Acquiring the needed rights-of-way is expected to be costly and where that money will come from is a concern of the commissioners.

“Best I can remember, there’s not a lot of folks willing to give up property for this project to go through,” Mason said.

The county has about $3 million available in the current special local option sales tax for road projects. But there also are resurfacing projects and other road improvements on the slate.

“We do need to move forward with some road work projects,” Allen said. “We do have money in SPLOST. It does have to be spent and there is a timeline.”

The recently-approved SPLOST, which goes into effect next year, has $30 million set aside for road projects. The T-SPLOST, which voters will decide on next year, also includes money for each county in the 10 regions to use on road projects. It is estimated the T-SPLOST under the Transportation Investment Act would bring in $3 million for the county to use under its discretion.