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Gravel road improvements get 1 percent tax money

Oct 29, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The money had been allocated for a different project, but county commissioners decided to use it for gravel roads instead.

Dozens of miles of roads are to receive new gravel after Fremont County Commissioners approved spending $2.5 million on the project.

The funds are coming from optional 1 percent sales tax revenues.

The money had been allocated for a different project, but commissioners decided to use it for gravel roads instead.

Decisions on which gravel roads will be repaired have not yet been made.

Recommendation

The county's 1 Percent Citizen's Committee recommended the commission use the money to fix gravel roads.

The group advises the county on how to allocate the revenues from the tax, which was approved in 2012.

Government leaders had promised the money would be used for roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

The committee's vote in support of the project was unanimous, Fremont County Transportation Department superintendent Dave Pendleton said.

"Wet spring conditions this year exposed treacherous roadway conditions, which is a real safety issue for school buses and the traveling public," Pendleton said in an email. "It was discussed that county funding available for gravel replacement ... is very limited."

Fremont County's current budget only includes enough money to fix about 20 miles of the county's 550 miles of gravel roads, Pendleton said. At that rate, some stretches of road would not receive new gravel for about 27 years.

Pendleton expects to be able to repair 50 to 75 miles of gravel roads with the $2.5 million allocated.

Mortimore Lane project

The money had been part of a $5 million allocation set aside for the second phase of a project to widen Mortimore Lane near Lander and add a recreation path to the road.

Commissioners previously reallocated about half of those funds to fix a number of bridges around the county.

Pendleton said that project will address repairs to 27 bridges and culverts that require repair of failing pieces as well as concrete sealing and bridge deck replacement. The preventive maintenance should extend the useful life of the structures and avoid the high cost of replacing them.

Engineering firm HDR is preparing bid documents for the project.

The remaining $2.5 million that had been set aside for Mortimore Lane's second phase was insufficient to cover the cost of the project, Commissioner Travis Becker said, so the 1-percent committee recommended the county board use that money to replace gravel on as many gravel roads as possible.

Pendleton said the phase-two rebuild of Mortimore Lane was moved down on the list of priorities for county infrastructure repairs.

"It is a good project, but the gravel project will have an immediate and direct impact to the lives of a greater number of people," he said.

The money now will be used to purchase gravel and to have a private contractor haul the material to the roads in need. County crews will install the gravel on the roads, Becker said.

The county does not plan to purchase and stockpile gravel with the newly allocated funds, he added.

The county's transportation department will compile a list of gravel roads and prioritize them based on several factors.

"They're putting a matrix together of all the county roads that have gravel," Becker said. "Through a point system (they're) going through all these different safety factors deciding which roads are the worst. ... Those roads will get the gravel first."

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2017-10-15

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