Putnam County Commissioners Gene Beck, Kristina Warren and Jim Baird met with highway personnel Friday afternoon in a special session to gather information about the state of the county's roads. They agreed to come up with a long-term solution that includes thinking outside the box and making sure the public is in the communication loop.
Without having final budget numbers, the group is finding it hard to determine how to fix everything that needs repair with the amount of money they think they will have.
After much discussion, the group determined an approximate amount they believe will be the budget for roadwork in the county.
"It looks like we will have between $600,000 and $650,000 dollars to work with. That doesn't do much paving does it," said Highway Department Superintendent Dave Sutherlin.
Highway department staff assembled lists by townships of the work that needs to be done. Estimated costs for repair using chip and seal only in the following townships are: $202,875 in Jackson, $34,650 in Russell, $162,500 in Cloverdale, $105,000 in Warren, $170,000 in Clinton, $95,000 in Washington, $87,500 in Jefferson, $62,500 in Marion, $25,000 in Greencastle, $50,075 in Franklin and $98,825 in Floyd Township.
"These numbers don't include any paving or filling of potholes. It's just material for chip and sealing," added Sutherlin.
In 2007, the highway department repaired 3.187 miles with chip and seal; black-topped 0.718 miles of chip and seal; repaired 5.791 miles of Pug roads with chip and seal; used Pug on 5.225 miles of roads and chewed up roads then chip and sealed 4.748 miles of roads.
This years list of roads needed repaired is more than double that of last year and there is less money in the budge.
All three commissioners agreed the group would have to determine criteria to choose what roads would be fixed.
"The roads with the most traffic need to be repaired first," agreed Warren and Beck. Counters will be placed on roads next week to determine the most heavily traveled roads that need repair work.
"We also need to fix the drainage on many of the roads," stated Jim Baird. "We have some roads where the water just sits," he added.
The discussion turned toward how to determine the best process to repair the roads and to make the repairs last longer.
"If all we do is grade and use crack and seal, we'll be back next year to do the work over again," said Sutherlin.
Baird brought up the idea of using better products or new equipment which might cost more but would keep roads in good repair for much longer periods of time.
"We need to try some of these new things," stated Baird.
Warren agreed, "We're going to have to think outside the box to be able to do all this. I would rather fix the problem than just put a bandage on it."
"We would be better off to use PUG (a coal mix of hot asphalt, oil, rock and sand). We already know the roads last five to 10 years longer with PUG," Sutherlin added.
The meeting ended with the group agreeing that they would determine a plan that includes what roads will be fixed based on usage, what materials will work best and last longest, explore new methods and keep the public informed of the plan. They also agreed the plan would be updated annually and reviewed frequently.
"Everybody's road they live on is the worst one in the county," said Baird. "If we just simply look at traffic numbers to determine what gets worked on first and pick the best means to fix them we'll end up ahead."