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County to drive ahead with ash road fixes
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Work on fixing several of Effingham County’s troubled ash roads could begin soon, but county commissioners also worried what could be done for a more permanent solution.

Commissioners approved at their most recent meeting a bid for $1.07 million to Littlefield Construction to repair and resurface 16 ash roads. The total miles to be fixed is 15.95.

Most of the roads to be repaired, temporary county administrator Toss Allen said, are lower volume roads, with the exception of Zittrouer and Herbert Kessler roads.

“We certainly have plenty more roads to do this on,” he said. “We have some choices to make.”

The county had one bidder, Littlefield, the last time the contract was put out. A second alternative, which was re-mixing and re-laying of the ash, without surface treatment, was added to this proposal. Allen explained since it was not part of the mandatory pre-bid meeting, potential contractors would not have known about it, so it was put out for bid again.

Littlefield’s quote was still the lowest. Without surface treatment, the cost would have been around $547,000.

The county has about 150 miles of ash roads. Some of the roads have been damaged significantly in recent years, while others have maintained their integrity. Roads with the most damage are in low-lying areas, areas with little or no drainage and in heavily-shaded areas.

“We inherited a problem, and it’s been going on a long time,” said Commissioner Steve Mason. “I would rather fix one mile of road, rather than do something wrong for three miles.”

The county has tested several mixes of ash and base in an effort to find something that will work. Allen said some solutions that tested well in the laboratory didn’t measure up on the roads.

A complete, permanent fix may require widening many of the roads.

“I fear there is not one readily attainable,” Allen said of a long-standing fix.

Commissioners, though, pressed to have repairs done while work continues to find a potential long-term solution.

“We can’t do nothing,” said Commission Chairman Wendall Kessler.

Said Commissioner Vera Jones: “We don’t have the money to completely re-do them, and we have to do something in the meantime. We need to do temporary repairs that last for five years while we can figure out a better solution.”

Mixing in aggregate with the pulverized ash to put back down on the roads means the new roadbeds will be higher, as much as four to six inches, Allen explained. Most of the roads are only 17 feet wide, and he issued the concern that putting the aggregate on the roads could lead them to be classified as improved roads, leading to a 55 mph limit on 17-foot-wide roads that would then have significant dropoffs along the sides.

The longest stretch of road to undergo repair will be 3.3 miles of Green Morgan School Road from Old Dixie Highway South to Sisters Ferry Road. A 2.72-mile stretch of Union Springs Road from Stillwell-Clyo Road to its end will be repaired, and 2.5-mile stretches of Zittrouer and Indigo roads will be resurfaced. The shortest length of road to be fixed is .18 miles of Midland Pines.