• 70°

County: So long ‘Sandpile’

Within the next year, County Road 5521 — aptly nicknamed Sandpile Road — will have to change its name to Smooth, Safe and Freshly Paved Road.

A $400,000 grant for resurfacing and paving along three neglected local roads is a project years in the making, with months of planning still to come, County Engineer Russell Oliver said.

On Nov. 8, county commissioners approved a Community Block Development Grant for the paving of a 1.8-mile portion of Sandpile Road, plus renovations on County Road 2259 and County Road 2270.

Oliver said developments are scheduled to start at the beginning of the year, with final work stretching until 2012. On March 31 of 2012, officials will have to apply for another grant, he said.

“The people who live on the road have already been patient with us, and we appreciate it,” he said.

Oliver said the road will be funded by the grant plus a county in-kind match of $330,000 and a cash match of $194,000. Oliver will oversee the project, but added that Commissioner Jimmy Barron has had a hand in the project since Day One.

“This is kind of his baby,” Oliver said.

Barron has worked with families along the stretch of road for several years. Last year, he and other officials submitted the exact same grant, which was declined because the funding focus was directed toward storm drainage.

To assemble the grant two years ago, Barron and assistant county engineer Cornelia Sanders went door-to-door along Sandpile Road and collected information from 30 families. This year, the grant came through, to the delight of the road department and Barron.

“I’ve just been so excited about getting it done,” Barron said. “It’s been a lot of hard work to push it through.”

Barron also had local help — Sandpile Road resident Carroll Hussey acted as a go-between for many of the residents and the commission, Barron said.

For Hussey and other families along the Sandpile Road, the grant is a long time coming. Hussey has helped rally support for the paving of his road for about five years, including his collaboration with Barron.

During rainstorms, Sandpile Road turns to sloppy mud and poses a danger to drivers, he said. When the road dries out, the sand forms small dunes, creating a “washboard” effect that damages cars and trucks, he added.

“If you travel this road as much the people around here do, it’s hard to keep a vehicle in good condition,” he said.

The road also has blind curves, narrow stretches, and hills that are prone to accidents.

Also, there’s just something about a dirt road in a residential area that seems to attract litter, Hussey said. Passersby have thrown out heaps of trash, old tires and even deer carcasses — a trend Hussey hopes will end once the road is paved.

“I think with it being paved, people won’t want to stop and throw out garbage,” he said. “Once you get a nice, good paved road, people stop doing things like that.”

Hussey also said he and other families along the road are grateful to Oliver and Barron for their support and efforts to obtain the grant.

When Oliver took the county engineer position two years ago, “it just went from there,” Hussey said. Barron has been a supportive force in their cause for years, he added.

“All of us over here really appreciate all the commissioner has done,” he said.