County plans sur­vey of roads

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - TOM SISSOM

BEN­TONVILLE — Ben­ton County roads will get a more rig­or­ous ex­am­i­na­tion than the tra­di­tional “eye­ball test” as tech­nol­ogy is ap­plied to the eval­u­a­tion and plan­ning process.

County Judge Barry Moehring signed a con­tract with Green­bergFar­row Ar­chi­tec­ture to do a video sur­vey of 800 miles of paved roads. The com­pany also will do an as­sess­ment of the roads in a de­tailed re­port, in­clud­ing iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lem ar­eas us­ing ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sys­tem satel­lite map­ping data. Pro­pos­als to deal with any prob­lems also will be in­cluded.

The work by Green­bergFar­row will cost the county $65,500. Green­bergFar­row has its head­quar­ters in

At­lanta and has a Ben­tonville of­fice.

The county will re­vise its 2017 road plan based on the in­for­ma­tion, which Moehring said should be avail­able in the next 60 days. Some pri­or­i­ties could be changed as a re­sult of the new in­for­ma­tion, he said.

“There’s go­ing to be some trade-offs,” Moehring said. “One thing we’re not go­ing to do is we’re not go­ing to just ‘eye­ball’ the roads and make sub­jec­tive de­ci­sions on what work is done. We’re go­ing to make data-based de­ci­sions.”

Moehring be­came in­ter­ested in hav­ing a de­tailed sur­vey and as­sess­ment of county roads done af­ter learn­ing of the pro­gram from other elected of­fi­cials. Bella Vista had its roads stud­ied by the com­pany, and Mayor Peter Christie said the re­sults were im­me­di­ately use­ful. The city will con­tinue to use the in­for­ma­tion, Christie said.

“We did it in 2015, and we’re go­ing to put it out for bids again this year,” Christie said.

“We’ve got 550 miles of roads. The in­valu­able thing is it gives us a rat­ing or a ‘color’ rat­ing of all of our roads.”

The rat­ings show city of­fi­cials which roads need the most im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, since re­pair costs es­ca­late as the con­di­tion of roads de­te­ri­o­rates, Christie said. The city ap­proved a 1-mill tax in­crease, gen­er­at­ing about $450,000 a year, to put to­ward street work, he said.

“This has been in­valu­able,” Christie said. “The way it was be­fore was ba­si­cally the su­per­in­ten­dent try­ing to re­mem­ber the con­di­tion of the roads and make de­ci­sions based on that. It ended up be­ing more of a squeaky wheel sys­tem rather than more of a busi­ness ap­proach.”

Se­bas­tian County Judge David Hud­son also has used the pro­gram to have the roads in his county sur­veyed and as­sessed. Se­bas­tian County had the work done two years ago and has made use of the re­sults, Hud­son said.

“The ma­jor­ity of Se­bas­tian County’s roads are paved,” Hud­son said.

“The prob­lem was how to al­lo­cate our money to most ef­fec­tively main­tain those roads.”

The in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by Green­bergFar­row helped set up a pro­gram for main­tain­ing its roads, Hud­son said.

“It al­lows you to cal­cu­late al­lo­ca­tion of money in dif­fer­ent types of work,” he said “It helps you up­grade the over­all con­di­tion of all of your roads.”

Pat Adams, Ben­ton County jus­tice of the peace and chair­man of the Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, said he’s ea­ger for the work to be done so the county can put the in­for­ma­tion to use. He said he knows some peo­ple will be dis­ap­pointed if their roads aren’t in­cluded among the top pri­or­i­ties, but the county has to put its lim­ited re­sources to the best use in a sys­tem­atic process based on ac­tual road con­di­tions.

“I’m tick­led to death we’re go­ing for­ward with it,” Adams said. “I know there’s go­ing to be peo­ple up­set if we’re not go­ing to be paving 53 miles of roads this year, but it’s short term. I know some peo­ple who’ve been told for years their road is go­ing to be fixed and noth­ing has been done. Some­thing else al­ways comes up. This is a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF

Patches can be seen in the pave­ment Fri­day along Stoney Point Road in east­ern Ben­ton County. Green­bergFar­row Ar­chi­tec­ture is do­ing a sur­vey of paved roads in the county, which will be used to pro­duce a map with video of dam­aged ar­eas.

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