County road woes

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There is no shortage of needs when it comes to Pike County’s roads and bridges.

But, there is plenty of shortage when it comes to their upkeep.

With more than $19 million needed for road and bridge replacements in the county, the Pike County Road Department has little place to turn to for infrastructure needs.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The local roads are the backbone of our community,” said Pike County Engineer Russell Oliver. “What good is 231 if you can’t get there? You can’t get the goods and services that drive our economy if you don’t have our local roads to those state highways that are in such good shape.”

Of the roads in the county, Oliver said the Pike County Road Department is responsible for maintaining about 730 miles, 412 that is paved and 318 unpaved.

The Alabama Department of Transportation, on the other hand, is responsible for 121.5 miles of roads within the county. And, the city of Troy maintains the majority of other road structures within city limits.

In addition to roads, the county also maintains about 170 bridge structures that are at least 20 feet in length and other smaller structures.

The majority of where the county road department maintains falls outside the city limits of Troy, though there are a few exceptions.

Henderson Highway, Butter and Egg Road, Elm Street Road, Shellhorn Road and Pike County Lake Road are a few examples, Oliver said.

“All of them need work,” Oliver said. “Many of them need to be resurfaced, and many of them need to be rebuilt.”

That’s about $8.2 million needed for road resurfacing or rehabilitation and $10.9 million needed for immediate bridge replacement needs.

And when it comes to revenue, the amounts just won’t cover those costs.

The local road department’s main source of revenue comes from federal and state gas taxes.

“The federal government has a gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gas, and the federal government collects that, and they distribute that to the states,” Oliver said.

From the state, Pike County collects $533,000 from federal taxes. That’s on top of the approximate $2 million the county receives from state gas tax revenues.

State gas tax is distributed on population to the state’s 67 counties.

According to a report from the National Association of County Engineers, Pike County’s not alone in funding shortfalls.

“Federal funding for road and bridge infrastructure is woefully inadequate in light of the huge needs nationwide,” the report “Local Roads Matter” reads.

The report, which is lobbying for something to be done on a national level, is something Oliver said he supports, as the county has already faced a tough year in funding, having to sell equipment and borrow money to complete road projects.