Commissioners eye road-management system

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Firm proposes to evaluate county roadways; funding for preventive maintenance would be priority

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY — An Evansville company wants to develop a comprehensive road-maintenance system for Perry County. If approved by commissioners and funded by the county council, the initiative would focus more money on maintaining roads with high traffic counts while emphasizing preventive maintenance to extend life expectancies of roadways.

"It's about you getting the most bang for the buck," David Goffinet of Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates told commissioners at their Dec. 18 meeting. He offered a PowerPoint-based overview of the system, which could be in place during the first half of 2009. Commissioners opted to wait until after the first of the year to approach the council for funding.

Under the plan outlined by Goffinet, BLA employees would evaluate the county's network of paved and gravel roadways, charting their current conditions and identifying problems such as poor drainage, a major cause of road deterioration.

The company would also estimate current and future maintenance needs for each road, with that information, along with photographs and maintenance records, entered into a map-based computer program that would allow county and highway-department officials to retrieve data instantaneously.

BLA would offer recommendations for future road projects, such as major repairs and repaving, based on comparing costs with traffic volumes. Those comparisons would calculate each project's cost per unit mile, a figure Goffinet said is invaluable in making transportation decisions.

"The idea is to develop recommendations that prioritize projects and maximize the value of the money and time you spend on roadways," he said.

Preventive road maintenance would become a priority. Since money spent on filling and sealing cracks and improving drainage is less costly than rebuilding roads, the management system would identify roads most in need of preventive care, as well as those that are stable and not in need of work.

Getting the system up and running would take a few months, but could begin soon with inspections of roads, Goffinet said. The cost to the county would likely be more than $100,000, which would include up to 100 road counts to determine traffic volume.

The county would also pay BLA to update the system on a quarterly or annual basis.

Commissioners Jody Fortwendel voiced support for the proposal, saying it would help commissioners make more objective decisions on where to spend limited paving and road-repair dollars.

Bill Amos, who was sworn in Wednesday and replaces Don Sherry on the board of commissioners, was in the audience for the meeting and said he was interested in learning more about the proposal.  

In other business, commissioners:

• Reappointed Pat Tempel to the Perry County Plan Commission. Drs. Robert Ward and James Black were returned to the county health board and Dan Adams was appointed to a new term on the Perry County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

• Accepted quotes from Mulzer Crushed Stone for various sizes of stone to be used in 2009, J.H. Rudolph & Co. for asphalt and CPI for culverts used by the county highway department.