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Clark roads follow national trend

County engineer says higher materials cost, decreased funding hurt paving program.

The nation’s roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than they can be repaired, according to a new study, and pavements in Clark County mirror that trend.

According to new data by the Federal Highway Administration, only 38 percent of the nation’s roads are in “good” condition. Those in poor condition are littered with ruts, potholes and cracks, delivering bumpy rides and increased repair and fuel costs for motorists.

While Clark County has yet to initiate its own ratings system, Johnathan Burr, Clark County engineer, said he believes local roads reflect the national trend.

“We look at the worst roads, and I assure you there are more roads we want to pave that don’t get paved due to sheer financial constraints,” he said.

There are 305 miles of roads that fall under the responsibility of the county engineer, with similar mileage each in the city of Springfield and the townships.

At the county engineer’s office, funding is provided by the federal gas tax and vehicle registrations. Those have dropped 10 percent since 2009. Meanwhile, the cost of materials, such has asphalt, has increased more than 100 percent. It all adds up to fewer dollars to make repairs and to maintain other necessary services, Burr said, such as storm damage repairs and plowing.

“I’d love to go in and be on a 10-year paving cycle with all our roads,” Burr said. “But you’re talking $3 million a year just to get in a 10-year cycle, just for paving.”

This year the county will spend about $1.3 million to pave about 7 miles of road, which includes Medway-Carlisle Road.

About 30 miles of roadway will get a “quick fix” with a chip-seal coat, which includes a thin layer of asphalt topped with stone chips. It’s significantly less expensive than new pavement— about $18,000 per mile vs. $80,000 for asphalt— but doesn’t last as long. What it does, Burr said, is buy him some time.

“The most important thing is holding it together so we don’t end up with potholes and a maintenance nightmare,” he said. “I hope it gets better, but I fear with the way revenue is going and material prices going up, it’s probably going to get worse.”

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