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Commissioners Discuss Winter Road Conditions
Updated February 26, 2014 7:04 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - Salt or no salt became the topic of the Lawrence County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes says county roadways are in bad shape.

"We are doing the best we can," Holmes told the commissioners. "The roads are breaking apart and humping up. There are pot holes everywhere. The roads are falling apart. We are filling what we can with cold mix, but that is only lasting a day or two, but that is all we can do until the hot mix plants open."

Holmes told the commissioners that the county has spent more than $200,000 for snow removal.

"We have used an awful lot of salt this year," Holmes added.

Commissioner Bill Spreen would like to see the county stop using salt on the roadways.

"Counties like Bartholomew and Orange use very little salt or no salt," Spreen says. "We are in a dilemma - we either fix the roads or buy salt to break down the roads. This is something we really need to talk about."

Project Director Bob Dillon, who is in charge of the upkeep and care of the county bridges, agrees with Spreen.

Dillon says the use of icing materials is the number one cause of bridge damage.

"I have property in Martin County and they use very little salt," Dillon says. "Residents have learned how to cope and drive on snow covered roads. Its not a problem there."

The county's salt supply contract expires April 1. Now they need to decide if they want to spend money replenishing the salt supply for next year, or to repair roadways.

The current contract allows the county to purchase salt for $50 a ton.

"But it won't be that low now, because of the salt shortage and now high demand," Holmes says. "In some places I have seen the price as high as $200 a ton and that is if you can get it. We need to purchase at least 1,000 tons."

But if the county stock piles salt, there will be $150,000 less for paving roads - that is if the county can buy the salt at $50 a ton.

Commissioner President Dave Flinn says the problem is the county's topography.

"We have hills we have to deal with and even if school is closed we still have to get people to and from work. We have to use salt to make the roadways safe," Flinn added. "We tried to restrict using salt in some of the flat areas this year and we had some residents gripping about the conditions of the roads."

But Spreen says that paving roads amounts to months and years of use, where using salt is limited to hours or a day or two.

"People will adjust and learn how to drive on snow," he added. "We have to address this issue because our roads are falling apart. Most people have either 4-wheel drive or fron- wheel drive vehicles and the few that don't ...We just have to do what is best for the majority."

And more ice and snow is coming, according to Emergency management Director Valerie Luchauer.

"We are keeping a close eye on a storm that will hit the area Sunday and Monday," she added. "It looks like the system could bring us a lot of ice."

In other business:

Y.T. Zhang, of Indiana Limestone, asked the commissioners permission to access the data base of the counties 39 Degree North program. Zhang says doing that will allow Indiana Limestone to locate and manager the more than 2,000 acres they own on their computers, instead of always having to use 39 Degree North. However the commissioners did not want to grant Zhang access to that information, says he was more than welcome to access the public information that was available on the 39 Degree North website.

Dillon updated the commissioner on work being done on Bridge 77 on Mount Pleasant Road. Dillon says the south footers have been poured, but cold weather is hampering crews from pouring more concrete. He says when crews finish with Bridge 77 they are looking at beginning working on either Otis Bridge, the Tunnelton Bridge over White River or bridges in the Logan Bottoms and Guthrie.

Lawrence County Sheriff says the common areas at the jail have been painted. Currently there are 143 inmates in the jail, of those 6 are Department of Correction holds and 26 are female. He also updated the commissioner on the wheel chair lift for the Courthouse. Craig has quotes from two companies, however the company with the cheaper quote wants half of the money up front. Craig also presented the commisioners with the receipts and disbursements of the commissary fund.

"I would hate to give a company $10,000 up front and then learn they have went out of business," Craig says. "The other company, whose bid is $1,000 higher, has agreed to work with us and will accept payment when the job is complete."

County Treasurer Paula Stewart asked the commissioners to sign the Hoosier Hill Lock Box Contract. Stewart says the contract is identical to last years.

"I want to stress that having his agreement allow us to do payments faster, be more accurate and focus our attention on assisting the public," Stewart added.

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