JeffCo: 40 percent of roads need immediate help; 5-year plan established

A new report on Jefferson County’s roads shows 40 percent are in poor condition and in need of immediate repair.

A new report on Jefferson County’s roads shows 40 percent are in poor condition and in need of immediate repair.

Roads and Transportation Director Cal Markert presented results of his new study to the county commission Thursday. He also explained his five year plan, which is aimed at quickly bringing these roads up to par.

Markert calls it a catch-up game from bankruptcy.

“When you don’t maintain a road, it doesn’t show up for a couple years,” he explained. “Then, boom, it’s falling apart.”

800 of the 2,000 miles of roadway the county maintains have a poor rating condition and “need to be repaved right now,” said Markert.

One example of that need is on Forest Road between Hueytown and Pleasant Grove, where the county plans to repave a three mile stretch this year.

It’s the road Richard Smith took to the playground with his children on Thursday.

“Honestly, I’m like dodging pot holes while I’m driving,” explained Smith. “I’m like literally, you have to know where to go so you don’t hit the pothole just right. It can’t be good for tires and for anything.”

Now the Jefferson County Commission is allocating more money to roads, which means more employees and more miles paved.

“Last year we did 80 miles,” said Markert. “This year, we want to do 110 with our staff and contract out another 50 or 60 miles. So roughly 160 miles for 5 years gets us that 800 mile mark. Each year though, other roads will be dropping down that need to be added to the list so that’s why it’s kind of a catch-up game. “

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens says it's about improving the quality of life for citizens.

Queenstown Road in the Trussville area is another visible need of the work.

Paving crews worked on a three mile stretch of Queenstown Road Thursday.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Smith. “The more the better, man.”

The five-year plan also addresses the need for new bridges, capacity and safety projects, picking up litter and customer service.

Markert said taxpayers are his customers. One goal in the 5-year plan is to respond to all citizen requests within 48 hours.

One of the major capacity projects that will be addressed this year is Morgan Road. The most congested county road is Morgan Road.

A project is underway to widen Morgan Road to two lanes on each side, plus a turn lane.

18,000 cars travel the two-lane road daily.

Right now, the county is working with AT&T and Alabama Power to move the utilities.

“That is one of the most traveled roads in Jefferson County,” said Commissioner Jimmie Stephens. “There’s more traffic on that daily than on the Beach Express coming out of Orange Beach and it’s a four-lane highway. So, it’s in immediate need of repair and an expansion.”

Commissioner Stephens says construction should begin on Morgan Road by December.

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