FAITH HARPER, firstname.lastname@example.org
Smith County residents will get their first peek at the county’s proposed long-range road plan.
The document is still a work in progress, but is shaping up after several years of work and a series of public meetings.
County Engineer Frank Davis said he will have a draft of the plan ready this week, and can present it to the Commissioners Court on Aug. 8.
“We identified the projects that need to happen, but it’s about timing,” County Judge Nathaniel Moran said Tuesday during a discussion on the progress of the long-range road plan. “We don’t want to present a plan that’s not doable. You can’t do them all in one year, and you want to make sure you don’t clog up an area of the county altogether.”
In 2015, the county completed a survey of its existing road infrastructure and put together a citizen advisory committee to get started on some of the known issues. At the time, the study estimated it could cost between $84 and $124 million to update the county’s aging road system.
To get started, the county has given the road and bridge department extra funds from its reserve to work on special road projects over several budget cycles. That has contributed an estimated $10 million toward repairs.
This summer, the county started public hearings to get a better idea of what needs to be repaired from the residents who drive the roads daily.
Smith County has completed three public input sessions to gather information from the public on dangerous intersections and congested roads.
One more is scheduled for Aug. 15, and the input from that will be added into the plan.
That is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 15 in the R.B Hubbard Center, or “the HUB,” 304 E. Ferguson St.
Residents also can submit recommendations online. So far, the county has received more than 200 online forms offering recommendations to make the streets safer.
A link to the form can be found on the county's homepage, www.smith-county.com. The link is in the right section of links under the heading of "County Residents." The form can be filled out online and submitted electronically. The page also has tabs with meeting schedules and useful resources.
Moran said the county would also have a discussion on payment options for the plan.
“The citizens are saying the road and bridge issue is a must fix,” Moran said. “We heard an immediate call for action from those folks, and the tone has been so positive, but also encouraging us to not stop, and to keep moving forward.”
2017 ROAD UPDATE
County Engineer Frank Davis also gave Commissioners and update on current road projects for the 2017 fiscal year. The report included the third quarter of the year, which ended in June.
A final report for the year is scheduled to be presented in October, when the county’s fiscal year resets.
So far this year, the county completed 16 miles of asphalt overlays, and 13.2 miles of seal coats.
As of the time of the report, the county hadn’t completed any oil dirt road rebuilds, but Davis said those are in full swing now. Repairing oil dirt roads is easiest in the hottest part of the summer, he said.
Contractors are also working on two roads, and a third (County Road 1261, or Big Eddy Road) is scheduled to be awarded next week.
Ongoing projects include County Road 149, from Farm-to-Market Road 2493 to U.S. Highway 69, as well as County Roads 2328, 2323 and 2294.
So far this year, 1.9 miles of contracted work has been completed, according to the report.