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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2007
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Lawrence patching roads to extend life of pavement

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

MOULTON — Patches of asphalt and crushed stone are being poured along about 20 Lawrence County roads to seal cracks in the pavement, County Engineer Mac Rushing said.

“What we’re doing is strip patching,” he said. “It’s something we do to extend the life of the pavement.”

Rushing said the process could be finished in another month if weather permits. Workers have patched roads at different locations across the county since summer, he said.

Rushing said strip patching is a temporary solution until money is available to pave the roads. The county performed an inspection of local roads in June to determine maintenance needs.

In June, the Road Department had $415,000 remaining of its total budget of more than $2 million. The department has requested more than $2 million from the County Commission this year.

The commission will meet to approve the budget Tuesday.

If the cracks aren’t patched, rain and traffic will make the pavement uneven, Rushing said.

Rushing said roads that have been recently patched have a few rough spots.

“They’re as smooth as they were, but we’ve put some liquid asphalt and crushed stone on them,” he said.

County commissioner Harold LouAllen said to his knowledge, the commission hasn’t received any feedback from the public about the roads. But at least a few residents say they’re not satisfied with the repairs.

“It’s ridiculous,” Wes Campbell said. “It’s Lawrence County. They don’t do repairs.”

The worst roads in the county, Campbell said, are 136, 585 and 324. Campbell owns low-profile show cars and said he usually has to make repairs after driving on roads that have been patched.

Ben Stewart, former owner of B&B Wrecker Service, said the patched roads are dangerous, especially at night or in rain. He said he has seen vehicles nearly wreck when negotiating curves.

“It would scare me to death at night,” he said. “I’d rather them leave it alone than put tar and gravel down. You can still see the cracks in it, so I don’t know what the purpose is.”

Billy White agreed. He said he doesn’t know of any other county that patches roads the same way.

“They put down a layer of tar and about five times as much gravel and scrape it off,” he said. Rushing said the rising cost of oil has resulted in a substantial increase in the cost to pave roads.

Paving costs about $60,000 to $80,000 per mile, while strip patching costs about $15,000 a mile, he said.

“The price of oil determines the price of the plant mix we use, and it has about doubled in the last several years,” Rushing said.

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