Let’s plan now for road repair work

By Steve Estes

Now is not the time for our county leadership to move slowly on figuring out which roads to pave with their future infrastructure sales tax money.

And we say that because our sewer contractors aren’t moving slowly in tearing up those streets.

Right now the contractors are working on gravity pipe areas and in those locations, they are generally running the primary collection pipe right down the middle of the street.

As part of the contract, they are supposed to repave those streets once they have finished with the work in that area so the upset for residents should be minimal after the actual pipes are in the ground.

But it won’t belong before the contractor for the outer islands system begins cutting trenches, and in the outer islands there is a lot more small pipe technology which generally will not go down the middle of the street.

Only the half of the street torn up in placing the smaller pipe will be covered by the contractor. Monroe County has to cover the other half.

We’re told that communication is taking place so that county money, or crews, can dovetail with the repaving work done by contractors and help cut the overall bill for the taxpayer portion.

We certainly hope that’s the case.

We’ve been without serious road work in many areas for many years. Potholes that used to be an inch or so deep have become voluminous. Small ponds gather in low-lying areas during every rain event, which means we’ve had near lakes for the past couple of weeks in all this rain.

Tire ruts threaten to throw cars out of control. Breaks in the pavement are a hazard to two-wheeled vehicles.

We know county staff is busy. But this is an important issue, and we have half the battle done for us,so let’s not waste time.

Get a schedule from the contractor and use that to schedule paving going forward. I doubt few of us will mind if we have to borrow a few bucks against the sales tax extension to pay for the roads now since we all have to drive on them.

And the less time we have to spend driving through dirt water holes, the better we’ll all like it.

While we’re thinking about roads and bridges, we would like to see a quick finish to the county’s ongoing asphalt and paving needs study.

That would seem a valuable tool in planning where and when to spend the few dollars we have right now to put toward making our road surfaces safer to drive on than they have been.

In places where the contractor’s schedule and the needs assessment match, there’s an easy decision to make. Contract or perform the work in-house and save us all time and money.

And our vehicles.

While there may be other questions surrounding the ongoing sewer project in the Lower Keys, questions that will probably be debated or litigated after the pipes are in the ground, fixing roads ripped up by the sewer work isn’t in question.

We might suggest that the county open a suggestion line on its website to hear from the people driving these roads everyday. No one knows the condition of a road better than those who have to suffer its shortcomings on a daily basis.

That information could be melded into the ongoing study, matched up with the sewer contractor’s schedule and work could proceed.

We have here an opportunity to make life easier on our residents, our wallets, and our staff.

We have watched in recent years as the state Department of Transportation impacted a portion of road for repairs only to have the Heritage Trail contractors come along a few months later and impact the same stretch of road, and now, in some cases, the sewer contractor will impact the same stretch of road that has been torn up twice in the last few years.

The latter was simply poor planning on someone’s part. We know the state can be stubborn. When it wants to do the work, it does the work,and two different state agencies never talk to one another.

So it was up to us to talk to them. Maybe we did. Maybe we were ignored.

But this is a planning process that is well within our control.

Let’s plan and execute with a minimum of upset to the local residents.

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