County engineer discusses dirt road improvements

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Chiton County Engineer Heath Sexton presented the projects he would like to prioritize this summer during a Chilton County Commission work session on April 5.

“I really think that we should take this summer and this fall on trying to improve … dirt roads,” Sexton said.

He talked about the two crews at the road department, and how he would like to divide this into four crews, with one dedicated to improving dirt roads.

“We really have everything (equipment), except the roller,” Sexton said.

Commissioner Randell Kelley said the commission should leave the division of staff to Sexton to decide “what is most efficient to do what needs to be done.”

Several commissioners agreed.

A position of a full-time grater operator would need to be established, Sexton said.

Herbicide vegetation management was also discussed as a summer project.

Commissioner Allen Williams said if the dirt roads can be improved to be “in good shape,” then they would not require as much maintenance.

Commission Chairman Jimmie Hardee asked about how this would be accomplished. He said one road that had just recently had dirt filled in on it was in rough shape again.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell said many of the dirt roads in the county have multiple soils types that create a challenge.

“The employees know where the bad spots are, and that’s where you put material,” Parnell said. “You don’t reclaim an entire road for the sake of it, you fix the bad places.”

He said testing the compaction and putting it down when it is dry is important.

Hardee also emphasized the importance of properly compacting the dirt.

“All of our crews don’t have rollers to pack it in,” Hardee said.

However, he and Parnell did say that a loaded dump truck could also do a good job.

Hardee emphasized that having a good base for a dirt road is essential.

“You are all right,” Sexton said. “… We have done a lot of study, in order to have a good dirt road, you’ve got to have good material.”

He said proper grating, angular rock and a layer of silt was crucial. He agreed testing and having a good crew is important.

Sexton said training would need to be given. Parnell recommended creating a position to be a trainer and committed to improving dirt roads.

Resurfacing County Road 15 from County Road 30 to State Route 82 is also moving forward, using Rebuild Alabama Act funding.

Sexton said the county needed to look at if it wanted to continue to get rock to put on dirt roads every time it rains. He commented that these are unrestricted funds that could be moved to another budget area.

Also, during the meeting, Sexton discussed some equipment and software needs in light of the budget and potential applying for the Alabama Department of Transportation FY 24 TAP grant by May 31. Sexton said he wants to stay on a rotation of purchasing equipment.