By: James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
December 20, 2012
Upcoming road improvement projects were discussed during the regular meeting of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon.
During the meeting, Doug Tetzlaff, the district engineer for the Wilkes County and Ashe County DOT, explained the allocation of funds supplied to the Secondary Roads Improvement Program, which totals $1,344,841 for 2012-2013.
This money, allocated by the General Assembly, was divided into three categories. The Highway Fund received $285,745, the Trust Fund received $379,096, and the HB 905 Fund received $680,000.
According to Tetzlaff, a .8 mile stretch of Roaring Branch Road is projected to be paved as a “Rural Paving Priority.” This will cost approximately $680,000, the total amount received through the HB 905 Fund, and 50.6 percent of the total amount received from the legislature.
Roaring Branch Road was selected to be paved because it was the highest road on a priority list made by the DOT. The priority list is based on the number of factors, including the number of homes, schools and businesses each road serves, said Tetzlaff.
If Roaring Branch Road cannot be paved, another road from an list of alternatives will be selected, he said.
“In the event that any roads in priority have been placed on the hold list due to unavailable right of way or environmental review issues, or if additional funding becomes available, funds will be applied to the roads listed in priority order in the paving alternative listing,” read information released by the DOT.
Parsons Hill Road, Martin Gambill Road, Parker Ellen Road, and Bill Bledsoe Road were all placed on the Rural Paving Alternatives list.
The Secondary Roads Improvement Program also includes an “Unpaved Road Improvements” section, which totals $500,000 (37.2 percent of total allocation).
According to Tetzlaff, improvement for unpaved roads include “spot stabilization.” A total of 50 roads have been selected for spot stabilization in Ashe County.
A third section for the Secondary Roads Improvement Program will contain funds “reserved for surveying, right of way acquisition, road additions, contingencies, overdrafts, and paving entrances to certified fire departments, rescue squads, etc,” read the DOT’s release.
At $164,841, the third section of this project will use 12.2 percent of the total allocation of funds to the county.
According to the DOT’s information, this program is “subject to availability of funding, completion of necessary rights of ways, and environmental review approvals. Proposed funding allocations are only projections. Should the actual allocations be greater, N.C. DOT will continue down the priority list to fund additional secondary road paving projects.”
At the end of Monday’s BOC meeting, time was reserved for commissioner comments. During that time, the commissioners expressed their condolences to those affected by the tragedy that happened in Newton, Connecticut last Friday.
“You never know when or where something like this can happen; I can’t even imagine it,” said Commissioner William Sands. “Let’s continue to pray for the family members who lost loved ones,” said Sands.
Commissioner Gary Roark said the Ashe County BOC should “take a look at our school system.” He said the board should do anything, despite the cost, to prevent a tragedy like this from happening in Ashe County.
“It’s our obligation to protect our students,” said Roark.
Also, Vice Chair Judy Porter Poe spoke about Ashe County’s mental health problem. Poe said involuntary commitments are costing Ashe County money and tying up emergency rooms.
“We need to help these people,” said Poe, “I’m going to the state to get the big bucks.”
Several other items were addressed during Monday’s BOC meeting: