Road district commissioners hear tips on road preservation
Road district commissioners in Barry County received advice on maintaining roads and smooth operations during the annual meeting with county commissioners on April 19.
Presiding County Commissioner Cherry Warren introduced Beth Schaller, area engineer, and David Colf, maintenance superintendent, for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), as special guests and speakers.
Colf oversees the south Barry County maintenance depot for MoDOT in Cassville. He said MoDOT buys rock for chip and seal surfacing from the quarry near Purdy. The major innovation now in use is a fog seal, spraying a dilution of one-tenth oil over finished roads, old or freshly finished. At a cost of $2,000 a mile, the fog seal can enable a chip and seal road to last five to seven years.
Colf said spot sealing for troubled areas can help, but only works if caught before water penetrates to below the roadway. MoDOT no longer does spot sealing, he added.
For equipment, Colf advised owning a power broom, something to bond with an oil applicator; a trailer-mounted pot hole filler; a chip applicator and some kind of roller. He recommended resurfacing with chip and seal or asphalt for ease of maintenance over gravel roads.
MoDOT generally uses CQRS oil for fog sealing. Colf said the newer mixture sets quickly. He used to use watered down SS1 oil, which was very unpredictable. For chip and seal surfaces, MoDOT uses CRS2P, which is thick and holds rocks.
MoDOT crews try to respond to reports of potholes within 24 hours, Colf's territory includes 542 miles of state roads in Barry County alone. Colf's crews serve Barry County, south of Purdy, and Stone County. They also place signs in part of Lawrence and Jasper counties.
Colf said they are fortunate to work with the MoDOT maintenance station west of Monett. Barry County is one of the few counties left with two facilities. Monett-based crews patch all the potholes and cut brush.
According to Schaller, MoDOT received good bids for 2013 and pays $16,000 a mile for chip and seal work. A Shell Knob road district commissioner said bids in March prompted a low price of $17,000 a mile for chip and seal.
The Shell Knob commissioner said his district planned to try a different approach suggested by Hutchens Construction, a mix of oil and chips that lays down black rocks which stick better and produce less dust.
The county will seek bids for road work shortly. County commissioners invited the road leaders to submit lists of the roads they plan to resurface and to use the county's contract. Southern Commissioner Wayne Hendrix said districts should seek bids for major projects if the cost exceeds $6,000.
Bridges in the county have been recently inspected by the state. Warren said the county received a complimentary report for the general condition of its bridges.
Warren and his colleagues will review the list, compare traffic counts and average daily use, then select which bridges will need work. He invited the road leaders to request a bridge review if they have specific concerns.
Bridges 20 feet in length or more fall under the county's responsibility for maintenance. Warren said the county will receive Title 3 funds from the Forestry Reserve that can be used on bridges. Commissioners plan to review the inventory of box culverts and small bridges 10 feet and longer, not counting low water bridges, and replace some with the extra money. Many of the box culverts date back to the 1930s, Warren added.
Pioneer Road District commissioner Tom Witt asked Warren about the benefits to consolidating road districts. Warren said he has long advocated combining some of the more than two dozen county road districts, the most in any county in Missouri. Consolidation would reduce the cost of insurance, which separate districts all must carry, and maintaining equipment.
"We'd be happy to work with any of you [considering consolidation]," Warren said. It would be a step in the right direction."
The county commissioners also provided advice on adhering to the Missouri Sunshine Law and how to run meetings.
Schaller briefed the road leaders on funding for MoDOT, and how Missouri has the lowest state gas tax in the region. If a new one-cent sales tax is approved for road funding, a proposal that may go to voters in November 2014, an additional $80 million would be generated for counties, around a 35 percent increase, plus another $80 million for cities.
Missouri has about 10,400 bridges, whose average age is 46 years. Schaller said about 2,500 bridges are still classified as deficient after the 800 bridges targeted in the Safe and Sound Bridge Program were addressed. Replacing all of the remaining bridges today would cost $5 billion, she said.
"Transportation is a good investment," Schaller said. "Studies show you get $4 back for every $1 spent."