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Story Archives: Jury alters parish road schedule
|Jury alters parish road schedule|
Sparked by a citizen's comment on parish road conditions, the Franklin Parish Police Jury turned a lively discussion into a major change in part of its road construction and maintenance program last Thursday night.
Following sometimes hectic chatter of nearly 40 minutes, jurors—in a split decision—voted to stop chip-sealing a series of roads in favor of using the money to maintain roads already sealed.
The decision leaves one road to be sealed, because the preliminary work has been completed, and another eight roads to go unsealed this year.
Instead, the funds set aside for chip-sealing will be used to help maintain roads which were sealed earlier but now face deterioration. The re-sealing will be conducted in the order in which the roads were first sealed.
There could be minor changes in the order of road resealing, depending on Federal Emergency Management Agency funding relative to Hurricane Gustav damages.
The Jury regularly reviews its road program, providing direction for Superintendent Greg Humphries on almost a monthly basis.
The new direction sets aside plans to chip-seal parts of the following roads:
Seymore Road, HW Armstrong Loop, Willie Herron Road, WPA Road, Warsaw Loop, Frankie Loftin Road, Jackson Lane and Ponderosas Road. McElwee Loop will be chip-sealed as planned.
The maintenance program will begin with Lawson Road at the top of the list to be resealed. About 25 other parish roads are then listed in order or priority.
In addition to Lawson Road, others in order are: Mullican Road, Willie Hill Road, Stucky Lane, DC Crain Road, Lovers Lane, Calhoun Road, Faulk Road, Roger Miller Road and Kenneth Barton Road, to round out the top 10.
Richard Rawls of Arvel Linder road addressed the jury as a visitor and seemed to have struck a nerve of the jurors.
"I can't sit any longer without saying we're going to lose our roads if we don't do something," Rawls said. "I'm too proud of the one I'm on to see it be destroyed. We're way overloading trucks and putting them on our roads. We're going to lose them!"
A number of jurors quickly agreed and the ensuing discussion flowed rapidly for at least 30 minutes before a vote was called. Jury President Harvey Guimbellot broke a 3-3 tie vote to switch the road emphasis from sealing to resealing.
Jurors Ricky Campbell, K.W. "Buddy" Parks and Troy Hendry, voted against the measure, saying it would rescind a public promise to surface roads.
Voting for the change were Ray Young, Jackie Johnson and Leroy Scott, who cited the need to prevent further damage and increase future maintenance costs as an overriding reasons for change.
The lengthy discussion touched on a number to topics, not the least was public opinion of the change.
"We're not going to please everybody," said Young in reference to the way the maintenance emphasis would be prioritized.
"That's what we need to do," said Campbell when in light of hearing that Caldwell Parish has a program to reseal its roads every five years.
"I think we're going against what we said we would do," said Parks following the vote.
"That's what we're supposed to be doing but we're not doing it," said Guimbellot in response to another call to action on sealed roads.
Hendry, among the most emphatic of the evening, said, "There's a road ready to be done and I've told the folks they were likely to have that road fixed in April." Jurors then allowed McElwee Loop to become the only surface on the chip seal list
Discussion also included reference to the rise in costs. When the sealing program began two years ago, the cost was $20,000 per mile. Current cost is $38,000 per mile, leaving some jurors to conclude resealing a better investment than newly sealed roads.
The possibility of the parish being able to use labor and equipment from a National Guard unity this summer was discussed and the possibility of federal funds from either stimulus or hurricane repair complicated the issue.
The parish began its chip seal program in 2004 and has made adjustments from time to time, mostly because of rising costs. Increasing costs are responsible for the program being behind schedule.
Humphries, who oversees the program, said he is legally required to have the approval and direction of the jury to perform any road work.