County road damages from truckers discussed
Published 4:24 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Answer may be cash bonds, manager says
Road Manager Bruce Cook suggested supervisors look into establishing a policy that would require cash bonds from landowners or trucking companies in an attempt to recoup part of the repair costs for Panola County roads damaged by log trucks, especially during the winter season when wet and cold roads are the most vulnerable.
Supervisor Chad Weaver brought the matter up during the road manager’s report at Monday’s meeting, asking if there was some mechanism to punish those responsible for driving overloaded trucks on county roads.
“They have torn Good Hope all to pieces, and then there’s Tidwell, Gray, Cliff Finch, Springdale, and you can go on and on,” Weaver said. “They are coming here in winter and tearing the roads up and then leaving us to drive on them.”
Cook reminded Weaver and the other board members that the root of the problem is poor road construction, and that a properly loaded truck would not damage a good road. “We fixed Martindale and they logged it this year and I didn’t see any damage,” Cook said.
“The problem you have with your roads is that most of them have chip seal but nothing underneath,” he said. “There is no foundation, no structure, just dirt. Real roads are designed with a minimum amount of gravel on top of the dirt for a good base before the overlay. These old roads just don’t have that. Anything we repair now, or build, has the right foundation but there are still many of our roads that do not.”
Cook said the problem is worsened by log trucks who often come through the county carrying more than 100,000 pounds of weight, far exceeding the 80,000 that farmers and grain storage operators generally weigh.
Cook said cash bonds, determined by the amount of county roadway that haulers would use, would give the supervisors a way to assess the roads after a contract was completed and hold back some of the bond if damages were found.
“The gravel pits, the loggers, whoever else, ought to have some skin in the game because they are tearing up the roads big time,” he said.
In other Road Dept. news, the supervisors voted 3-2 to provide a load of dirt for Cold Springs Cemetery, a small private burial place in a rural area.
Supervisors John Thomas, Earl Burdette, and James Birge gave their approval for the county to haul one load of dirt to the entrance of the cemetery, but not enter the property and provide no labor for spreading.
Supervisors Weaver and Cole Flint voted no, sticking to the board’s usual policy of not providing dirt or gravel to any privately owned property unless it would improve general public drainage or repair a public road.
“Just because it’s an election year we don’t need to start backfilling cemeteries or building parking lots,” Weaver said.