Town hall meetings to be held on road paving in Cape Girardeau County

Thursday, January 15, 2009

First District Commissioner Paul Koeper wants to hear what the people of Cape Girardeau County have to say about paving county roads. He is planning at least four town-hall-style meetings in February, which he will attend with a representative from the county's road and bridge advisory board.

Larry Payne, chairman of the road and bridge advisory board, said the main topics of discussion will likely include the county's 10-year-old paving policy.

But more than likely, county officials will get an earful over problems with paving projects. Several roads covered with layers of rock and oil, called chip and seal, are showing serious signs of decay, despite being less than a year old. Some asphalt roads are having the same trouble.

"The main problem is the base," Payne said. While the chip-and-seal paving on County Road 422 is dotted with potholes and crumbling pavement, further south, the asphalt applied on County Road 271 is breaking up. Yet nearby County Road 273, the first stretch to receive a chip-and-seal coating, "is holding up really, really well," Payne said. "Well, we thought those roads were almost in identical shape."

Representatives of the Mount Vernon, Mo.-based Blevins Asphalt Construction Co., which did the chip-and-seal work, briefly visited Cape Girardeau County this week.

According to county highway administrator Scott Bechtold, the Blevins officials suggested the problem was in the layers of earth below the road, called the base or subgrade, which may not have been compact enough before the paving was poured.

Payne said more investigation is needed into the paving problems. But the informal meetings being planned for February are vital, because "we are not going to revise that [paving] policy until we have gotten an awful lot of input from the citizens of the county."

He said the 2009 paving program would not be finalized until after the town hall meetings.

"If we can get a better handle on this by mid-April, we'll have plenty of time to still get the paving [bid] advertising in," he said.

The town-hall meeting times and dates will be finalized during the road and bridge board's next meeting, 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at the county administration building, 1 Barton Square in Jackson. The meeting is open to the public.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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