According to information provided by county engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer, Elmore County is expected see an estimated $1.13 million in the coming months on improving roads.
Of that money, $730,000 will come from Rebuild Alabama funds and an additional $400,000 in federal aid funds for its 2020 transportation plan.
According to Beyer, the county is looking at ways to make the money go as far as it can through several different avenues.
“The nice thing is this is not just a one-time infusion of cash to make some improvements,” Elmore County Commission chairman Troy Stubbs said. “It is an annual revenue coming in and it will actually be coming in for several years. It allows us to plan for two, five, 10 years down the road and to look at roads and intersections that we might be able to improve.”
A total of 35.89 miles of roads will see improvements. The majority of those projects include a process called microsurfacing.
“This is a protective seal coat which extends the life of pavement,” Beyer said. “It is a thin, tough layer of asphalt emulsion blended with finely crushed stone. It is a cost-effective method to renew the road surface and seal minor cracks and other irregularities.”
According to Beyer, this method saves the county money and preserves the roads.
“Why this is important is it costs a third to a quarter less than a traditional overlay,” he said. “That has allowed us to stretch our money to get more miles preserved.”
Beyer estimates it costs the county $250,000 to microsurface 5 to 6 miles of roads.
“We started protecting the roads that are currently in good shape microsurface and then take the money left over to begin to address the bad roads,” Beyer said.
As for which roads the county works on next, Beyer said a grading system is used to determine where the money and effort will be directed.
“The road grades now have us in the realm of 15 to 20% that are considered needing help,” Beyer said. “Most of our roads are in that fair to good to excellent category. What that grading does is it allows us use our maintenance guys to work more on those bad roads and get those ready to be preserved.”
The county also looks at a variety of ways to work with contractors so the money can go further.
“Let’s say three asphalt companies get these 2020 jobs,” Beyer said. “If the companies fall under an annual contract and they are also working a specific contract, it gives them some flexibility with their crews and they tend to give us a better price because we are not as stringent on deadline charges.”
Beyer said out of the 15 years he’s been with the county it has used annual contracts for 10 years.
The county commission led the charge to get mayors on the same page by suggesting they work together.
“We’d like the smaller municipalities to combine their projects with the county’s,” Beyer said. That will make it easier to get projects done.”