Cumberland Times-News

May 12, 2013

County unveils capital roads plan

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners heard a presentation Thursday outlining the capital improvement plan for county roads. The presentation by county public works officials took place at the commissioner’s regular business meeting at county offices on Kelly Road.

The county’s current road inventory includes 312 miles of chip seal roads, 95 miles of blacktop roads and 126 miles of gravel roads. Chip seal roads are lightly coated with asphalt and generally handle less traffic than gravel roads.

Maintenance plans for the different roads vary in cost. The chip seal roads improvements mean expenditures of $742,500 a year. That works out for a cost per mile of about $16,500 for materials, said Paul Kahl, the county’s director of public works. The chip seal roads are given a new surface on a rolling seven year schedule. Blacktop road maintenance costs $945,000 a year at about $150,000 per mile, officials said. Gravel road resurfacing is dependent on weather and traffic volumes. The county spends $50,000 a year for materials each year on gravel roads.

Bridges are a major part of the county road program because they require regular inspections. The county has 54 major bridges and 85 smaller bridges. The county’s annual bridge replacement cost is $900,000 per year and maintenance each year is $200,000. Inspections of major bridges is required every two years and eats up $400,000 of the county roads budget over that time period, officials said.

Much of the public discussion during the meeting focused on school funding issues. The county is likely to fund the school system at maintenance of effort levels.

Evan West, a representative of the Allegany County Teacher’s Association, said he came to the meeting to speak primarily as a parent. He said the school’s agriculture program might not be sustained much longer and that other programs are in jeopardy.

Maintenance of effort is providing one penny more than underfunding, West said.

Debbie Pappas of the Allegany County Teacher’s Association also spoke.

Charles Eberly said he was speaking as an educator. Eberly said the discussion has focused on dollars and cents, and there’s a bigger picture.

“You’re talking about people ... you’re talking about kids,” Eberly said. Children on free and reduced lunch will suffer the most from reductions in school programs and teaching staff, he said. “Think about the quality of what you’re getting back.”

Kenneth Wilmot said it’s important to consider the needs of teachers. Many of them lack the supplies their children need in the classroom. Some teachers take money out of their own pockets for all sorts of items, including clothing. Wilmot said the church he attends donates funds to help teachers out with supplies.

Jimmie Flanagan took the commissioner’s side in the discussion, saying they were doing a good job, and criticized a recent letter to the editor in the Cumberland Times-News by West on school security issues and funding. “I think you are representing all the taxpayers,” Flanagan said.

Mike Wade also praised commissioners.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.