County engineer works to reclassify road systemBy Emily Etheredge Published 4:29pm Thursday, August 8, 2013
With growth in Chilton County throughout the last 50 years, Chilton County Engineer Tony Wearren is working to reclassify 10 roads in the county by the end of 2013.
Currently, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) publishes a map of each county with a classification system for each road every couple of years.
Some of the various classifications include a major collector road with more than 500 cars traveling along the road daily, a minor collector with roughly 200-500 cars traveling on the road and unclassified rural routes which are regular roads, not heavily traveled throughout the county.
Wearren noticed that when the classification system was originally done for Chilton County more than 50 years ago by ALDOT, nothing had been changed about the classification system throughout the years.
Now, one of the ways to gauge traffic count is by a county-owned traffic counter determining the number of cars traveling along specific roads each day.
Wearren has spent time studying the traffic counter to determine several roads that need to be reclassified that will in turn be eligible for federal aid money from the state.
“The road department receives $500,000 each year as our allocation from the state,” Wearren said. “One of the stipulations with that money is a road has to be a major collector.”
Wearren said with growth in the county since the 1950s, the roads have shifted.
“There are a lot of roads that might have been heavily traveled 50 years ago that aren’t heavily traveled now but they are still a major collector,” Wearren said. “I am working to go back through and check all of the roads to see if some of them need to be reclassified.”
The most recent map titled Chilton County Highway Functional Classification system was published by ALDOT on Nov. 6, 2007.
The map has a color coordinated classification system for each road in Chilton County.
Wearren has spent time researching the map and working through the updates to hopefully have some of the roads with a different classification when the next map is published in 2014.
“ALDOT will only make changes to the maps for each county when that county submits changes that need to be made,” Wearren said.
Some of the improvements on a major collector road include resurfacing, restriping and widening.
The state provides 80 percent of the funds with the county having to match 20 percent so Wearren is working to reclassify some of the roads that were previously determined to be a minor collector into a major collector.
“There are some roads in this county that were originally classified as a minor collector because they weren’t heavily traveled years ago,” Wearren said. “With the shift of people traveling in different places as well as growth in different areas of the county, a lot of those classifications aren’t current anymore.”
Although the process for submitting changes with ALDOT for the reclassification system is lengthy with multiple pieces of paperwork to be mailed in before being approved, Wearren is working to have 10 roads submitted by the end of 2013 for reclassification approval.
The Chilton County Commission has already approved two roads, County Road 54 from a minor collector to a major collector and County Road 46 from a major collector to a regular road.
County Road 54 has been considered a minor collector but is now a heavily traveled road from Chilton County to Shelby County. Wearren said many people drive the road daily that connects to Highway 155, and he hopes to eventually widen the road as well as resurface and restripe it.
Wearren hopes the commission will also approve the remaining eight on the list for reclassification so he can start putting together the paperwork to be filed for approval from ALDOT.
“We are a bigger county than we used to be,” Wearren said. “More people are traveling along different roads than they used to and we need to update the information.”