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Road work sometimes includes PR work

Many residents in Hale County will complain about the condition of roads in their area without realizing the scope of work Hale County Engineer Arzo X. Abrams and the crews in the highway department must perform each year. “When they call in…I try to give them a real look at the priorities.”

The work crews have to perform in dry weather during weekdays – never knowing when rainy weather might wash out a whole work week. The summer of 2003 was particularly rough for roadwork due to inclement weather, he said.

In addition, the engineers have tons of paperwork and designs they must prepare for state approval.

There are four bridge projects, which will use half the $3.25 million funding allocated to the county from the 2000 Garvee/Amendment One bill. The Big Brush Creek bridge on Willie Brown Road, two Colwell Creek bridges on Lane Road and Tree Top Road, and the Whitsitt Creek bridge on Pheasant Road are expected to be completed this year.

Condemnation of property for the Big Brush Creek project should be completed in a few weeks.

“This really should have already been done,” he said. “We were given an extension.” Hale County did not have an engineer for a little over a year – right in the middle of Amendment One funding. “Now I’m behind the eight ball,” Abrams said.

The previous county engineer Wallace McAdory had proposed 14 bridges total to be replaced by Amendment One funding. However, the cost of steel has risen dramatically, Abrams said. “I don’t think we’re going to have enough funds.” Plans for Amendment One bridge projects must be in by November 2005. With four bridges already replaced and four in the works, Abrams hopes the county might get a few more done. “To try to keep all this going and keep the other federal aid projects going will be a real challenge – in the least.”

Other projects for the highway department in 2004 include County Road 29, in which the paving is just about finished. Guardrails and striping is still left to be done.

Two other paving projects, on County Road 12 and County Road 10, are pretty much complete. “The county still has to do some shoulder work on them,” he said.

A bridge project on County Road 31 is complete, however, with all but paving the approach ways. The county must wait until the weather gets much warmer until they can apply the “chip and seal.” Liquid asphalt is applied, and then you come back over it with crushed stone, Abrams said.

The highway department is also working on plans for resurfacing five miles stretches on County Road 17 in Sawyerville and County Road 47 in the southeast corner of the county.

There is a resurfacing project on County Road 21 in Moundville. “It got pushed back because they ran out of money,” the engineer said. It should be done this year, funding by the annual state allotment for highway improvements.

Resurfacing on County Road 51 should also be completed in 2004.