After Cape Girardeau County voters approved a half-cent sales tax for road improvements and upgrades to the sheriff's department, extensive discussions were held by an advisory committee to determine the best course of action for paving more of the county's 300 miles of gravel roads. Several roads were designated for paving, and the county said it would experiment with several miles of chip and seal, a process that is supposed to create a waterproof road surface at a fraction of the cost of laying asphalt.
But when the county advertised last month for chip-and-seal work to be done on 11 miles of roads, no bids were received. Vendors either said they no longer do chip and seal or it was too late in the season to complete the work.
At the same time, several county residents have expressed concern that roads they thought were going to be paved are now designated for chip and seal, an alternative those residents don't like. They say chip and seal is only temporary and doesn't last long enough to warrant the expense. And some residents question why the process outlined for paving roads with asphalt hasn't been followed. They claim that roads where not every landowner has agreed to right-of-way provisions are set to be paved before roads where all the landowners have signed the necessary paperwork.
Some of this may be due to miscommunication. County commissioners have expressed frustration with the progress of road work and are pushing for a faster delivery on promises made when the sales tax was approved. Even though it may be too late this year to accomplish as much as was anticipated, it's not too late to make sure county residents are getting what they think they bargained for.