Road Work Ahead?

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes described some streets inBrookhaven as “archaic.” After a work session on Wednesday, cityofficials are learning of ways to improve some of the town’sperceived prehistoric roadways.

Mayor Les Bumgarner, city council members, engineers, countyofficials and other invited guests gathered Wednesday to discussdifferent ways to handle various road conditions and ways to upkeepthe streets of Brookhaven.

“The reason we’ve called this meeting is through annexationwe’ve inherited a lot of roadways, and we’d never get there withour budget,” said David Phillips, Ward Six alderman and sessionorganizer.

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The incorporation of 14.4 square miles in July of 2007 has addeda few more roads for city officials to worry about. And althoughthey have increased their paving budget this year by roughly$180,000, officials are hoping to stretch the road funds a littlefurther.

“We have a little more money and we need to utilize it in thebest manner to get as much road improvements as possible,” saidPhillips. “If we don’t start asking what our options are andeducating ourselves, we won’t be ready in July or August to usethose tax dollars effectively.”

City officials fired off various questions about different waysto improve road foundations and lifespan, such as resealing,milling and pothole work. However, experts would be unable to givea direct response because of the subjectivity of each job.

“There are a lot of options, and each individual road is goingto need a different approach,” said Mike McKenzie, Williford,Gearhart & Knight, Inc. principal.

Board members also asked multiple questions about ways to keepcosts low and the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.However, most of their questions about pricing would yield thesimilar case-by-case answer.

“If you can identify what you have to do and know it has to bedone in this time frame, we don’t have to anticipate materialcosts,” said Lester Williams, president of Dickerson & Bowen,Inc.

In addition to worrying about maintaining the newly acquiredroads through annexation, some city officials felt the city neededto keep its eyes a little more focused on the road.

“We’re going to have to bite the bullet,” said D.W. Maxwell,Ward Five alderman. “In our city, we need to do a little more thanwhat we’re doing.”

There may have been more questions than answers at the worksession, but aldermen think they were able to leave the meetingbetter educated about ways to improve city conditions and betterserve their constituents.

“I’ll know what to look for,” said Phillips. “As I ride aroundthe roads I’ll have a lot more knowledge to use.”

Proving that life is a learning process, Estes echoed the samethoughts.

“I think education is great, but it’s only great if you applyit,” said Estes. “I think we’ll definitely be able to apply some ofit.”