County roads take beat­ing, of­fi­cials told

Out­side help will be hired to get re­pair work fin­ished

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

BEN­TONVILLE — Ben­ton County’s roads took a beat­ing from the storms and flood­ing of April and May and county of­fi­cials plan to hire out­side help to get re­pair work done and keep the county’s nor­mal road work on sched­ule.

The county’s Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee re­ceived an up­date on the roads Mon­day night from County Judge Barry Moehring and Jay Frasier, pub­lic ser­vices ad­min­is­tra­tor and head of the Road De­part­ment. Robert McGowen, emer­gency ser­vices ad­min­is­tra­tor, re­ported on the sta­tus of the county’s ap­pli­ca­tion for dis­as­ter as­sis­tance from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency while Frasier and Josh Beam, county en­gi­neer, up­dated the panel on other pos­si­ble sources of fed­eral aid.

Moehring said the county will likely hire pri­vate con­trac­tors to do some of the emer­gency re­pairs, par­tic­u­larly those with tight guide­lines for com­ple­tion.

“I think we had a solid 2017 plan,” Moehring said “We’ve had a bit of a set­back with 300-plus FEMA sites

from the flood­ing.”

McGowen said the county es­ti­mates the cost of re­pair­ing dam­age from the April dis­as­ter at about $1.8 mil­lion at 334 sites across the county. He said the county will have a kick­off meet­ing with FEMA rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Fri­day and FEMA rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be­gin do­ing site vis­its some­time af­ter that meet­ing. If FEMA ap­proves the county’s ap­pli­ca­tion, fed­eral dis­as­ter as­sis­tance will cover 75 per­cent of the re­pair costs with the county pay­ing the other 25 per­cent. Brenda Guen­ther, comptroller, es­ti­mated Ben­ton County’s share of the cost at about $462,000.

McGowen said much of the dis­as­ter re­pair will be done by con­trac­tors.

“These projects will be put out for bids be­cause the Road De­part­ment can’t do all of these and still do the work in the 2017 road plan,” McGowen said.

The county also is ap­ply­ing for about $266,000 in as­sis­tance from the fed­eral high­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion; an­other $344,000 un­der a haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion grant pro­gram un­der the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and FEMA; and also will ap­ply for grant money for bank sta­bi­liza­tion work from the fed­eral De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

The com­mit­tee also was briefed on the sta­tus of the county’s 2017 road plan to date. Frasier said the county has com­pleted eight con­crete road paving projects and done 19 im­prove­ment projects on dirt roads. The county has also done 66 cul­vert projects and in­stalled about a mile of guardrails along county roads.

Frasier said there will be about 8 miles of road work planned for 2017 that will be car­ried over into the 2018 plan.

“If we can’t get to it it’s go­ing to go on next year and it’s the first thing we’ll get to,” Frasier said. “It’s the only fair thing to do.”

Pat Adams, jus­tice of the peace for District 6 and com­mit­tee chair­man, said he’s sat­is­fied the county is mak­ing good progress de­spite the flood­ing.

“It looks to me like they’ve got ev­ery­thing mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” Adams said. “They’ll be do­ing a lot of chip and seal paving for the next 45 days and peo­ple will be able to see that work be­ing done. This flood we got had set us back on our heels pretty hard but we’re com­ing out of that now.”

Adams said he also was pleased with the Road De­part­ment’s re­port on bridge projects planned for this year and next year. The projects in­cluded War Ea­gle Bridge, which is now un­der re­pair and set to be com­pleted in Septem­ber, and Spanker Creek Bridge, which will prob­a­bly be­gin at the end of this year and be com­pleted some­time in 2018. Other bridges listed for re­pair or re­place­ment in­clude Wild­cat Bridge, Stage­coach Bridge, Osage Creek Bridge, Wagon Wheel Bridge, Old Wire Bridge and Snavely Bridge.

“I’m pretty tick­led with the bridge work,” Adams said. “We’ve got some in bad, bad dis­ar­ray and at least they’re on the radar now. Hope­fully we’ll get them fixed for good. No more patch jobs.”

“These projects will be put out for bids be­cause the Road De­part­ment can’t do all of these and still do the work in the 2017 road plan.”

— Robert McGowen, Ben­ton County emer­gency ser­vices ad­min­is­tra­tor

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