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Upkeep of rural ‘spur road’ pondered

Certain roads in Marengo County, which are known as “spur roads,” have presented a problem for the Marengo County Commission. While the roads could easily be defined as public roads, they have not officially been adopted as such.

The problem the commission faced Tuesday, was whether or not the county could help maintain these roads.

Commissioner Max Joiner said there were certain roads, not driveways, running off county roads used by garbage and mail service and school buses that needed attention.

“They serve from three to five houses and working on them would not be working a private driveway, and they wouldn’t even be working on them on a regular basis,” Joiner said. “It would be fixing what is essentially a road-spur and not getting off onto a driveway. ”

The roads were not heavily traveled, Joiner said, but they were used as access roads.

“These are not major roads,” Joiner said. “These are basically areas that are serving older people and they don’t have the facilities to get out there. They are trying to handle their driveways and I admire that, but you need to have the access roads to get in there.”

There was no question from other commissioners the roads needed help, but how much help they can legally provide may cause problems.

Providing assistance to their citizens was always a top priority, Commissioner Freddie Armstead said, but they had to stay within their legal limits.

“I don’t have a problem with helping people, but we have to be very careful about breaking the law,” Armstead said. “I don’t mind helping anybody, but we can’t add on and add on to where it is 12 roads in the next few years.”

Armstead also questioned whether or not they would have to bring the roads up to the standard of public roads. County engineer Ken Atkins said the easiest solution to the problem could be to accept them as public.

“If we are going to do that we need to accept them as public roads,” Atkins said. “That would be my recommendation.”

The first step in providing relief was to define whether or not the roads already qualified as public roads. County attorney Woody Dinning said certain questions could provide an answer to this right away.

“Has the road been used through the decades for public transportation such that it qualifies as a public road?” Dinning asked. “If in fact the road does meet that criteria, the county can assume it as being a public county road and work it.”

The commission agreed it would be beneficial to research the area further and set certain criteria before they make a final decision. Some suggestions were to limit the work to a quarter mile distance, a minimum of three houses and absolutely no driveways.

Driveways, Joiner said, should never even be considered. But, helping out with “spur roads” could benefit many people.

“I don’t want a single one of our people leaving these roads to work a driveway,” Joiner said. “I don’t want them to touch it. But, I do think that we have some areas that need help.”