Commission gets list of suggested road improvements

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cape Girardeau County road superintendent Scott Bechtold made his recommendation Monday on which roads should be paved and improved in 2005.

The county commissioners took the recommendation and will make a decision some time after reviewing the roads for themselves on Thursday.

Bechtold's recommendation called for four roads to be paved this year: 1.1 miles of County Road 380; 1 mile of County Road 601; 1 mile for County Road 512 and a quarter-mile worth of streets in Millersville, meaning all the main roads in Millersville will be paved.

Bechtold also recommended that county crews grade six roads for future paving. Among those projects include widening a narrow spot atop a hill on County Road 603 that many nearby residents say is unsafe.

The county will also likely grade 0.3 miles of County Road 601, 1.25 miles of County Road 522, 1.1 miles of County Road 607, 0.3 miles of County Road 525 and 1 mile of County Road 343.

The issue of picking county roads for paving has been second-guessed over the years. The county this year has about $375,000 to spend on paving, which is nowhere near enough to pave the 300-plus miles of unpaved roads in the county. This year, roughly 3.5 miles of gravel roads will be paved. At that pace, the county should have all the roads paved by 2093.

Those who want their roads paved can't get them paved soon enough.

Dave White, who lives off County Road 250 in the southern section of the county, attended Monday's meeting to make his case for asphalt. He said roads 249 and 250 are both worthy of paving because they would require little grading work since they are already wide. Also, he said, the road sees a lot of traffic, especially when railroad trains block other nearby roads.

White politely told the commission he's been waiting for three years for his road to appear on the paving list.

"It's got a good slope and you take good care of our road, but you could probably pave it in a day," he said.

Commissioner Jay Purcell said it's tough for the county to decide, but ultimately "we ought to look at not how long someone's been on the list the longest, but what area seems to serve the public the most."

The cost of paving keeps going up. The county estimated last year that it cost roughly $75,000 to pave one mile of road.

Bechtold expects that price to go up when the county seeks bids for paving because of the rising cost of fuel.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones urged Bechtold to get roads "in the bank," meaning he wants roads prepared for paving so if the county has money left over at the end of the year, the county can immediately pave more roads.

The county had roughly $100,000 left over last year because the interest from the county's $5 million reserve fund came in higher than expected.

The county considers several factors when it schedules its paving program. The property owners first must petition the county, donating easements. The county also considers safety, traffic counts, property owners' monetary contributions for the improvement, and how long a road has been on the waiting list.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635


The following roads have been recommended by county road administrator Scott Bechtold for improvement for 2005:

FOR PAVING:

County Road 380 south of Burfordville, 1.1 miles

County Road 601, beyond Saxony Lutheran, 1 mile

County Road 512, north of Shawneetown, 1 mile

County roads in Millersville, 0.25 miles

FOR ASPHALT-READY GRADING:

County Road 603, north end from bridge to existing pavement, 0.3 miles for safety

County Road 522, north of Pocahontas, 1.25 miles

County Road 601, south of Fruitland, additional 0.3 miles

County Road 607, south of Leeman, additional 1.1 miles

County Road 525, north of Neely's Landing, additional. 3 miles

County Road 343, west of Jackson, 1 mile

SOURCE: Cape Girardeau County Highway Department

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