County road board finds problems with easements

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On Monday afternoon, a subcommittee of the Cape Girardeau County Road and Bridge Advisory Board examined the petitions and easements filed to request the paving of eight roads.

In each case, subcommittee chairman Ken Evans reported, they found something about the roads that was at odds with the county's written policies. In some instances, the county accepted a petition and package of easements that wasn't complete. In others, he said, roads where complete packages were filed within the past two or three years are set for paving before roads where the residents have been waiting for years.

The result, Evans said, is tension between the county's stated policy and the paving schedule approved by the county commission prior to an August vote on a new sales tax to support accelerated paving.

"We need to make a choice," Evans told the advisory board. "Do we take the policy and say this is the gold standard and use it as the sole criteria, or do we take what was published in the paper? Or do we do some sort of compromise between the two?"

In just their fourth meeting, the 12-member advisory board again confronted the issues that some county residents raised prior to the vote -- that the county deviates from its stated policies when deciding which roads to pave.

It is unlikely that complete adherence to the policy is possible, advisory board chairman Larry Payne said. "But we can get a whole lot closer than we are now."

In one instance uncovered Monday, Evans said, a road is listed as having a package of easements returned in 1998, but a complete package wasn't in the county's hands until 2005. The county policy states that the county will only accept a complete section of road, from an intersection with a state highway or county road to another such intersection. In addition, the county policy gives priority to the longest complete packages on file.

The county's paving policy has been posted on the county's Internet site at www.showme.net/capecounty.

Advisory board members are feeling pressure to resolve the paving issues and to find a method for providing some measure of dust control by the time the new tax revenue starts becoming available in the spring. Retailers countywide will begin charging an extra half-cent on every dollar spent beginning Jan. 1. Collection methods, however, mean the first dollars will arrive in the county treasury in March.

Ready to asphalt

County road crews have ready for asphalt about 6.5 to 7 miles of the promised 8.95 miles of roads pegged for paving in 2007. No one on the advisory board has suggested switching to other roads for next year, but the choices for roads that will be prepared in 2007 and asphalted in 2008 could change, Evans said.

Board members also discussed dust control with suggestions being made that they more closely examine how surrounding counties have handled the issue and that the county test various methods for effectiveness.

One issue that must be decided, members said, is whether dust control is an intermediate step on county roads that have complete easement packages or if it is a separate program. The methods under consideration range from a new soy oil-based compound that would be sprayed on roads to using "chip and seal" that uses a heavier, petroleum oil mixed with rocks to create a hard surface that is thinner than regular asphalt.

"We need to at least give people some kind of relief in front of their residences," board member John Helderman said. "I think we should separate the two issues."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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