The Washington Times-Herald

March 28, 2014

County works to get gravel roads up to snuff

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — The long and deep freeze of winter is finally coming out of the ground in Daviess County. The thaw prompted officials to put load limits on many county roads, but it appears that transition period is now over. Already road crews are trying to put the 500 miles of gravel road back together.

“They’re not as bad as we anticipated,” said County Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius. “We’ve still got some soft spots in them, but they could be a lot worse.”

The roads are also improving because of the work going on. “We’ve been hauling rock for the last three and a half weeks and running graders over them,” said Cornelius. “I wish we didn’t have any gravel roads but the reality is the county just doesn’t have enough money to pave everything.”

For people who live along the gravel roads in Daviess County the big issue is quickly shifting from soggy spots to controlling dust. “It’s dried out enough that we now have dust flying on the county roads,” said Cornelius. “We are getting calls already from residents wanting dust control.”

The county highway department does have a dust control program in place to help residents along the gravel roads and that program is now getting started. Under the program the county will do control projects for $1.87 per linear foot or an update for 94 cents per foot. That’s an increase of two cents from last year. “That amount covers the cost of the sand and oil that is used,” said Cornelius. “The county picks up the tab for the manpower, fuel and equipment.”

Residents can have private contractors also do the work but it has to be approved by the highway department. “It’s ultimately a county road and the county’s responsibility to make certain the work is done right,” Cornelius said.

Even though the bulk of rural residents in Daviess County live along paved roads, the dust control project is a popular one. “We get 120 to 170 requests every year,” said Cornelius. “We use our chip and seal machine and a special crew that does that work. We try to get it done by the end of May, so that we can move on to other projects.”

For residents to get on the list for the work, even if they are using a private contractor, they need to contact the Daviess County Highway Department Office at 812-444-5798 before May 30.