Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

County Engineer Criticizes Road Resurfacing Process

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

County Engineer Criticizes Road Resurfacing Process

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | County commissioners are not selecting roads to resurface based on the greatest need, County Engineer Bobby Hagler told them at their meeting.

Hagler on Thursday presented the commission with a list of roads that would qualify for the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, which is intended to resurface roads that were originally paved by the Federal Aid Secondary program years ago.

But a protracted discussion led to a blunt statement by Hagler.

"Our priorities aren't where they should be," Hagler said in an exchange with County Commissioner Reginald Murray.

"Why is that?" Murray asked.

"We're resurfacing the roads that the commission wants us to resurface," Hagler said.

Tuscaloosa County's roads are supposed to be maintained under the "unit system." Road-building and repair equipment are concentrated in the county's Public Works Department under the direction of the county engineer, according to legislation that established the unit system in Tuscaloosa County, Hagler said. Before the legislation, each commissioner had a road camp and equipment in his district and directed road repairs.

But commissioners got an attorney general's opinion that said commissioners could prioritize which roads would be paved, Hagler said, and they determine which roads are resurfaced within budget constraints.

Commissioner Gary Youngblood said he never intended for his input to interfere with proper priorities for resurfacing.

"Our discretionary interjection ought to be looked at," he said. "Whatever is wrong with our road system, put it in the budget and I'll fight tooth and nail to see that you get it."

He pointed to parts of Keenes Mill, Lock 17 and Crescent Ridge roads that are not as good as they should be.

"That shouldn't be," he said.

The issue came up after Murray again discussed with Hagler a request last month to remove some roads from the state maintenance list. The roads on that list must be maintained to state standards and they are inspected annually by the state. Hagler contended that not all county roads need to be maintained to state standards and maintaining them at that level is expensive. …

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