Roads: May we ask your opinion?

Comment on this topic below!

“At a recent meeting of the Rains County Commissioners Court, Road & Bridge Administrator explained that rock would have to be added to rock roads in the county due to heavy rainfall and heavy traffic due to the pipeline contractor’s heavy trucks and equipment. He stated, “The old dirt roads are taking a beating as well and we will be addressing that as we can.”

Commissioner Patsy Marshall questioned Morgan regarding a resident in her precinct that was experiencing drainage problems due to an ineffective culvert. She stated that it had been a month since she had told the resident that she would find out information for him. Morgan stated, “The volume of our calls right now is potholes. We’ve got to get the potholes taken care of before we work with the drainage, especially an existing drainage problem, or something like that [even though] it doesn’t take much time. Potholes are taking precedent.””

Full article appears in the June 14, 2016 edition of the Rains County Leader.

17 Comments on "Roads: May we ask your opinion?"

  1. I think the county roads are horrendous. My road has flooded more than six times in the last year. It is not just a little water over the roadway, but waist-deep water that is not passable. Then when the water does finally recede, the silt and debris make driving treacherous. Everyone knows my vehicle because it’s the one covered in mud – not because I go off-road, but because I drive on my road. Rains County roads are an embarrassment.

  2. Joe Humphrey | June 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Reply

    Dear Deb,
    You have every right to vent your frustration. I just hope you do not live on one of those roads which only has one way in and out. I am thankful that you have the good sense not to cross the road when it is flooded so you are still here with us to share your frustration.
    Just a few years ago we suffered through three years of extreme drought which killed or weaken many trees making them vulnerable to high winds and gravity. This year and last we have seen record rainfall events and multiple high wind events which not only flooded roads, but in many instances washed out culverts/bridges and/or blocked roads with fallen trees. The news has been full of stories of people who lost their lives on state roads and highways. Recently I am sure you remember hearing or seeing the story of the soldiers that were in a military truck with high ground clearance that was swept away at Fort Hood or the grandmother and grandchildren who died in their flooded home in Palestine. Just last week Interstate 45 was closed just south of Corsicana due to flooding. Please do not take my comments as belittling your situation and we should make every reasonable effort to correct the situation but to emphasize that no matter how much we may plan, there are going to be some places that are prone to flooding until this county grows enough that very busy engineered roads replace our rustic roads with trees that frequently overlap. Please read on…
    Many Rains county roads are indeed a mess. Many are extremely narrow and drivers must keep an eye down the road a long distance so they can pick a place to pass without driving far enough off of the main roadway without getting stuck. Rough roads and potholes are a ongoing problem as well. Speaking of rough roads and potholes, I asked Mr. Ronnie Morgan, the Rains County Road and Bridge Administrator how much time the road crews have spent on culvert washouts/repair and removing fallen trees from the road. He said 75% of the time has been devoted to those two tasks during April and May. The other 25% was spent working on potholes. FYI filling potholes with anything other than gravel is useless until the potholes dry out. Everyone knows that oil and water do not mix. Oil sand or even asphalt does not stick to wet or damp potholes and just wastes materials and is much more expensive than rock.
    For everyone’s information who may read this comment, the county only has seven road-hands and a mechanic to maintain approximately 258 miles of roads. Approximately 48 miles are gravel without an all weather surface. People on gravel roads not only have to deal with water and washouts, but also rub-boarding and dust every time someone drives past their house during the summer.
    Deb, the following comments are of a general nature meant to inform the general public who I hope reads this blog and are not actually in response to your specific problem, so please do not be offended or think that I am accusing you of negative thinking.
    Every member of the Commissioner’s Court knows that the answer to our road problems is to raise taxes to pay more workers, buy additional equipment and road building materials. Public Safety (Sheriff’s dept. and Jail) and Road and Bridge are already the two most expensive departments in the County consuming nearly half of the annual budget. People often suggest that we par down the Sheriff’s budget or the Road and Bridge budget, but if we do we will receive complaints about slow response or no response when the Sheriff’s dept. has more than one or two calls. Even now the Sheriff barely has enough people to be on call 24-7 and that doesn’t include the state mandates dealing with jail staffing. Speaking of state mandates. The state legislature frequently passes laws which mandate that local counties provide certain services without providing funding to cover those services. Then they come home bragging about the money they saved the state. Hogwash! They simply push it onto the counties who have to make it up from local revenue.
    Other people complain about the condition of their road and say that we pay our road-hands to much. Sometimes people are quick to accuse the road hands of goofing off, not realizing that the nature of construction depends frequently upon a load of gravel or other materials to be delivered in a timely fashion or some other issue beyond their control. I am not saying everyone is perfect and I certainly should not cast any stones myself as I know that most of us tend to judge others on a more inflexible scale than we would have them use on ourselves. Very seldom does anyone say, tell the road workers I appreciate them coming to work in the middle of the night to remove a tree that has fallen, or to put up a barricade to prevent someone from driving into floodwater or working in the intense heat of the Texas summer or the freezing rain in the winter. Anyone who makes comments such as these should ask themselves if they would be willing to do the job for the pay that our Road-workers, Jailers, Deputies, and other government employees earn.
    In your case it sounds like a much larger culvert/bridge would be needed and that dirt would need to be brought in to raise the road. There are numerous creeks that overflow their banks every time we have a large rain or even not so large a rain when the ground is saturated like it is now.
    Please e-mail me at joe.humphrey@co.rains.tx with the specific road and location where the flooding is so extreme. I would like to check it out even if it is out of my Precinct.
    Joe Humphrey, Commissioner PCT 4

  3. Mr. Humphrey, I appreciate what you said above. However, it doesn’t address any issue with any solutions. We know the excuses/reasons. Recently my next door neighbor had to call an ambulance out for a heart issue. She is OK, but said the ride out of here in the ambulance was horrendous. If someone had a back/neck injury, they would have been in awful shape. Our roads have been “patched” many times in the 13 years we’ve lived here, but each time the patches are piles of oiled sand that are stepped on (sometimes not even that much effort). I have stopped and taken photos of the awful repairs. When a car runs over the pothole, the repair is pushed out of the hole and ends up being a bump in the road right before or after the hole. Proper repairs would go a long way to helping with this situation. CR 3418 was resurfaced last year and we all appreciate that immensely. It’s time to do 3419 and 3400 before tragedy strikes in the local area. We’ve had our culvert washed out and are currently driving over large pieces of metal which have been there for quite some time. We have 14 houses in our neighborhood and the youngest person that lives here is probably mid 50s with most being in their late 60s and 70s. One neighbor is 93. We were in a panic here locally when our roads were flooded and culverts washed out. Other than boat, we have no other way out. We desperately need help. Down these roads, we pay about $60,000 a year in county taxes along. I know it goes for other things too, but we should be able to get a good road out of that. Our vehicles are taking a beating also.

  4. I agree that drainage is a major problem/issue here. I have often wondered why they have not dug out the county road ditches all the way to 515 so they will drain. I called & called until they finally came out & dug the ditches only in front of my house. that did stop the water from making my front yard like a lake, however my neighbors still flood & then it does start to come back up into my yard. I realize that a lot has to be maintained, however, please get to digging the county road for better drainage. Just one road a week would start getting the county in better shape.Thank you

  5. You want to know about bad roads try rains county road 1475. Has not been touched in years,big pot holes and no gravel left on it.Really what do we pay taxes for?

  6. I understand big trucks, rain, pipe line, but what about before all that?? Try CR 3480 in Brighton Star. They have filled pot holes with rock, with gravel, over and over again for years!! My opinion…they probably could have repaved the road for the same cost they keep patching the holes for. Sometimes I want to call and ask are they going to pay for my car when it’s tore up because all they keep doing it patching and it doesn’t last long. It’s ridiculous.

  7. Mr. Humphrey, sorry to be so blunt, but you took a lot of words to not really say anything. That’s too bad because some of what you had to say was interesting. Specifically your comment “Every member of the Commissioner’s Court knows that the answer to our road problems is to raise taxes to pay more workers, buy additional equipment and road building materials.” Wow, really? That statement has me very concerned. I truly hope that’s not what all our commissioners believe. The citizens in this county pay some pretty high taxes. I personally wonder if the problem is really an issue of proper management – money management, resource management, and the proper managerial skills to run a growing county.
    I’m sure R&B workers work hard. Sometimes a lot of hard work can yield poor results, and that’s unfortunate. It takes strong management and foresight, based on experience to yield good results. I think the county has enough money to fix the problem, I question whether we have the right process, procedures and priorities to address the roads.
    I’ve lived in the county for 10 years. That makes me a newcomer, but I’ve been here during the droughts and the rains. When the weather conditions are perfect, it may be easier to have good roads. The test of a truly well managed road system, is when the roads are good despite bad weather conditions.

  8. Joe Humphrey | June 16, 2016 at 5:43 pm | Reply

    Joe Humphrey | June 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Reply

    Ms. Bowden,
    Thank you for taking time to share your issues and concerns. In general they are unfortunately similar in nature and tone to other input I receive. Most citizens are not currently dealing with a washed out culvert and temporary iron plates, but you are not alone even in that respect.

    Mr. Morgan tells me that the culvert might be washed out again if we continue having large downpours like the one last week. The technique used for filling potholes without any leveling or tamping is a concern of mine as well. I will share our concerns with Mr. Morgan regarding the technique for filling potholes. The question I have is the method a factor of not caring or simply having so many to fill that the crews are in a rush to get the work done so they can move on to the next item.

    Developing a long term solution to improve our road system while simultaneously keeping taxes manageable is a complex and difficult task. You mentioned a figure of $60,000 per year and I assume you are talking about the sum of the 14 properties in your neighborhood. Less than one-third of $60,000 or $19,406 goes to the county. The rest goes to Rains ISD and EMS.

    The current budget is $4.5 million. The Commissioner’s Court allocated just over one million or approximately 22% to Road and Bridge in the 2015-2016 county budget. That million is used to pay salaries and benefits, purchase and maintain equipment, buy fuel and road materials including rock, oil-sand, culverts, signage, etc. $200,000 was allocated for road repairs and $195,000 for road upgrades. Since 22% of the current budget was allocated to the Road and Bridge Department, only $4,269 of the $60,000 your neighborhood pays in taxes went to R&B. Forty percent or $1,708 of that $4,269 dollars is being used either for repair or upgrading. Cost per foot of upgrading is a minimum of $5.68 per linear foot. Since half of the funds are for pothole repair materials and half for upgrading only half of the $1,708 or $854 would be available for upgrading. Therefore $854 could upgrade 150 feet or 50 yards of road.
    Our Road and Bridge Administrator reports that the cost to upgrade (blade up the existing roadbed and incorporate additional rock base and top with adequate oil-sand costs between $30,000 to $40,000 per mile if done properly. Even more if the road is wider. If you do the math you quickly see that $195,000 only allows for upgrading 5-7 miles per year at the current budget allocation rate. A very sobering thought is that even at the more optimistic rate of 7 miles per year, it would take 30 years to upgrade every road in the county and that doesn’t even address 44 miles of gravel road.

    To the best of my knowledge the county changed from the old Precinct Road Commissioner system to the Unit System which consolidated all of the men, material and resources under a central Road and Bridge Administrator System approximately 11-12 years ago ostensibly to save money. Since that time the county has had four Road and Bridge Administrators. Mr. Ronnie Morgan, our newest Administrator took over about six months ago. Poor road conditions did not develop overnight and will not be resolved overnight either. I think our present road condition is partly due to inconsistent policies and partly due to inadequate funding due to increased material and equipment cost.
    A comprehensive road and bridge policy should be developed for the Road and Bridge Administrator to follow county-wide with clear policies regarding road maintenance and upgrading policies.

    I have been working on such a policy and hope to have a preliminary draft completed soon. After putting together the preliminary draft I will be seeking input from interested parties from all four precincts. I will review the input, make any necessary changes and submit the policy to the court for review/action.
    Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Commissioner’s Court. The rules regarding the Open Meetings Act prevents Court members from meeting and discussing county issues except in public meetings with an agenda posted at least 72 hours in advance. This rule is to protect the public’s right to know.
    I will then present my findings to the Court for review and action.
    I did not offer any detailed solutions but I believe a plan to precisely define our priorities is the step. We need to clearly define our objectives in order to achieve our goal of quality roads in the shortest amount of time.

    In the mean time, the sunny and hot weather forecast will hopefully allow the Road and Bridge Department to make some significant headway in filling potholes and completing the installation of permanent culverts and to put the temporary metal plates away.

    I am very concerned about every citizen who lives on a road with a single access. Being a senior myself (70) and having recently experienced a life-threating health issue, I am very aware and concerned about emergency access.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Humphrey, Commissioner PCT. 4

  9. Joe Humphrey | June 16, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Reply

    Deb
    Sorry, I do tend to be wordy.
    Regarding my comment about the solution to the problem being money. I want to make it perfectly clear that Judge Wolfe nor any of the other commissioners have ever commented about raising taxes to solve the road problems. That is a sarcastic comment that I make from time to time, but I am a fiscal conservative and believe that we should live within our means.
    See my comments to Ms. Bowden regarding a road and bridge policy and while you are reading please check out the numbers I shared with her.
    I would welcome a face to face conversation with you as I am always interested in improving my personal skills and any insight you might provide me to be a better manager would be welcome.
    Joe Humphrey, Commissioner PCT 4

  10. Melissa Ashlin | June 16, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Reply

    I’d just like to say “Thank you!” to whoever is responsible for filling in the potholes on Meadowview Lane in Point! Your work is much appreciated!

  11. Teresa McDowell | June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am | Reply

    I live on 3380. I have called in the past about the roads ( like 3 Or 4 ) yrs ago and was told until what ever it was that was being built at the time was done there was no need in fixing anything cause the dump truck were just going to keep the roads tore up!!!! I do not give a big crap I like many others down this way pay our taxes and we deserve to have a good road to drive on. Why can the dump trucks drive around and go down why17 or by pilgram rest. These dump trucks go up and down past my house at lease 20 plus time a day.

  12. I can appreciate the crews having so many holes to fill, but as the old saying goes, if they don’t have time do it right the first time, when will they have time to do it over? The improper repairs waste money and time.

    The $60,000 in taxes I was referring to was only the Rains County taxes, I did not include the school and EMS in that figure. So 22% would be 13,200 per year. If you figure you don’t have to “repair” if you upgrade, then all of our money could potentially have gone to upgrade. Even if you do take out the “repair” budget in the last 13 years, 2.0 miles of road could have been upgraded at the $30K to $40K figure at least once and we wouldn’t have this issue. At the least, the worse areas of CR 3419 that flood and are sometimes almost impassable could have been repaired correctly. The culverts that stop up and cause the drainage issue could have been replaced. The ditches dug out if nothing else.

    As for the culvert with the metal plates. This culvert had been installed when this development was established. I was the first house out here and worked for the developer and sold most of the lots. We had a pretty good stand of Bermuda around that culvert and when the road and bridge group sprayed the road sides with herbicide, it killed out all the good grass too. We now have wash outs all through the neighborhood where we didn’t have them before and that’s the main reason the culvert washed out twice. Not sure where that decision came from, but it definitely caused much more damage than good. Now we ONLY have weeds, no grass.
    I have been told that if a road is the only ingress or egress to a neighborhood and there is an issue with a culvert/crossing area that the state will install a bridge in that area to prevent trapping people in a certain area. Would you address that with me as well? Is that an option to get assistance with repairing that culvert?

    Two years ago I asked for the total dollars spent by precinct to see how the monies are being dispersed. I’ve yet to get that information. Partly because I became President of LCN and got too busy, but mainly because of the inefficient search engine and record keeping making it next to impossible for me to figure it out and find the data. I would still like to get those figures and will be able to resume that quest when my term as President ends this coming December.

    Mr. Humphrey, I appreciate you addressing these things with us. It’s good to have a commissioner that will do that. Thank you for your time.

    Rains County Leader: Thank you for providing this means of expressing concerns and discussing issues. It’s great!

  13. I live on CR 1322. We have colverts that can’t carry all the water off either. Our road floods when we have heavy rain. The flood waters flows underneath the culvert. I notified the county about that but nothing was ever done. Only a matter of time till culvet is washed out. When we moved here CR 1322 was two lanes wide. It is now down to one lane wide because the asphalt has broken down on the sides of the road and has
    never been replaced. When you meet oncoming traffic someone has to leave the road.

  14. I just want to say that Rains County has really good roads. I went to pick up my grandsons in Van Zandt County, you want to see POT HOLES go on any county road in Van Zandt they have horrible roads that are impassable, you liken it to a mine field . My ex son in law said they are that way ALL OVER VAN ZANDT county and has been for years. Our Road and Bridge Dept. is not responsible for flood waters and the 7 year dry spell we just go out of. The number to the R&B is 473-5000 ext 199, take time to call them and report the damage as you see it. We assure you that our R&B crew responds or tries to address most calls. The Floods we just experienced caused havoc all over. The dead trees from the drought are still a problem. Can’t all live Shangri-La, so lets make the best of what we have.

  15. Just as an update to my previous posts. The culvert on CR 3400 is finally being replaced next week. We’re thrilled to have this done. Thank you Road & Bridge.

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