County looks at policy to decide road paving

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners reviewed a policy Tuesday that will help commissioners determine which roads to pave.

The commissioners agreed to change part of the policy to read that the county will maintain all county roads. It has stated that the county will improve all roads, but commissioners said maintaining them is more feasible.

The document is intended to help county officials prioritize which roads to pave during budget hearings.

"It is a way to give us information that we could use in making a decision. We are not necessarily going down and checking off items, but it gives us a way to evaluate whether a road should or should not be considered for paving," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

More than 20 people attended the commissioners' discussion Tuesday about the proposed policy for paving roads. County commissioners said early in the discussion that they were not going to refer to specific roads.

Stahoviak and Road and Bridge Director Paul Draper worked on the document using information from policies adopted in Kentucky.

"We don't have a public policy in place on how to take roads from gravel to paved, when the county decides to surface a gravel road and then what type of information (is needed)," Draper said.

Draper told the crowd that the county's goal isn't to do away with all washboard roads. Doing so would take too many resources and too much water, he said. The county tries to blade roads a few times a year and uses magnesium chloride on roads during spring.

"A no-washboard level of service -- that is just not the level of service we are trying to provide in Routt County. We do not have the equipment or the manpower," Draper said.

He noted that the best gravel roads tend to be near county gravel pits, where the materials are more readily available.

He also said that although paved roads lead to faster driving, not all paved roads would have 45 mph speed limits. He pointed to Strawberry Park Road, which, though paved, is not designed for traffic traveling at 45 mph.

The county maintains 550 miles of road year-round. About 150 miles of those roads are paved, and the rest are gravel. The county considers its light-surface treatments, such as roads with chip and seal, to be paved roads.

In the proposed policy, there are eight points to consider before making the decision to pave a road. In addition to examining the volume of traffic on a roadway, county officials also will consider the safety and design of the road, the condition of the road base and the cost to prepare the road for paving. The cost of maintaining the road and how paving the road fits into the county's long-term road plan also will be considered.

The policy also states that the number of vehicles and the weight of the vehicles using a road will be considered. The average daily traffic volume should range from 300 to 500 daily trips before the county would consider paving a road.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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