Dirt Roads Becoming a Hazard for Johnson County Residents

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Updated: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 09:46:58 EST

When drivers approach a fork in the road they usually have to make a decision on whether to go left or right. Some Wrightsville residents say when it rains, no matter which way you take at the Wood Road and Hightower Road intersection, you won't get far.

"The roads gets real muddy," said Robert Hightower.

Hightower says it been a problem for at least the last two years.

"Several times there's been people getting stuck on this road including school buses," he said.

His concern is a growing one. The majority of the residents on the two roads are senior citizens, one being his father who depends on oxygen.

"If the school buses are getting stuck, the police cars are getting stuck, I'm quite sure the EMS trucks are going to get stuck."

Hightower says it's time to pave the roads. County Administrator Guy Singletary says Hightower has a  legitimate complaint but his situation is not unique. Sixty percent of the county's roads are dirt and are maintained by an 8-man crew. 

Singletary says middle Georgia's wet summer hasn't helped. He says crews usually dredge roadside ditches during the summer, but this year they haven't had the chance.

"Where your water is typically running down a ditchline, now it's running down what should be a ditch line and cutting across roads."

He says they've added sand just to be washed away.

"This year sand wasn't cutting it," said Singletary. "We've hauled rocks on those roads."

Singletary says the county usually budgets about $10,000 for rocks to attempt to tighten loose soil, this year they've spent $50,000. The large rocks have presented another problem.

"These rocks have pointed edges on them," said Hightower. "And they're sticking up and causing neighbor's cars to be flattened or causing damage to their rims."

"In our mind, it's either wait until the road dries out and try to fix it at which point it would be impassable for public safety vehicles as well as school buses," said Hightower. "Or haul a load of rock in there and tighten that road up so that at worst-case scenario people would have to go a little slower through there but they can get in and out of their houses."

Singletary says they do want to pave the roads and they are doing everything they can to fix the problem. He says it would cost the county at $3 million to pave the six-mile stretch of roads in Hightower's neighborhood. The county operates on a $4 million annual budget.

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