Hyde: 'Slipping' on regular road maintenance due to limited funding

by: MARK MILLER - Fatigue cracking on East Columbia Avenue, one of many Columbia County roads scheduled for partial repaving this summer, near Scappoose.A relatively large amount of county roadway will be patched and repaved this summer, Columbia County’s roadmaster said Wednesday, July 2.

Dave Hill of the Columbia County Roads Department told the Board of County Commissioners that county work crews will be laying down about 13,000 tons of asphalt, covering some 88,850 feet of two-lane road, over the course of the summer.

“This is going to be a very, very busy summer program for us,” Hill said.

Among the roads that will be partially repaved are Pittsburg Road in the St. Helens area, Alder Creek Road west of Warren, Tide Creek Road in Deer Island and Neer City Road in Goble, all of which will receive more than a mile in total of new asphalt overlay.

Many more roads will have some repaving work done on them as well, including East Columbia Avenue east of Scappoose, Sykes Road south of St. Helens, and South Canaan Road near Deer Island, as well as a number of routes elsewhere in Columbia County.

Work is planned to begin Monday, July 7, Hill said.

Hill indicated the amount of asphalt being laid down this summer is a high number relative to previous paving projects in Columbia County. The Roads Department is draining its pool of federal surface transportation funds and spending $350,000 out of the county’s roads fund to pay for the work, he said.

But County Commissioner Tony Hyde said the county should actually be paving at least 38 miles per year in order to keep its 380 miles of roadway in good shape. This summer’s project covers 16.8 miles.

“It kind of gives you a sense of how far we’re slipping every year,” said Hyde, lamenting the county’s budgetary constraints.

Commissioner Earl Fisher said the county does its best to respond to complaints from the public about the state of its roads.

“We have people calling constantly about why my road is not getting taken care of,” Fisher said. “And the answer always comes back to, ‘We don’t have the funding.’”

Commissioner Henry Heimuller called this summer’s paving project “truly a Band-Aid,” but added, “It is best we can do.”

Heimuller also urged members of the public to be mindful of work crews on county roads.

The asphalt for the paving project is being supplied by TFT Construction Inc. in Rainier, according to Hill.

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