Smith Co. road improvements to cost nearly $98M

An analysis by Atkins North America consulting firm found 38 percent of 1,738 residential and rural county roads in Smith County roads are in poor condition, 50 percent are in good condition and 12 percent are in excellent condition. They estimated repair those local roads will cost $54,460,417.

Smith County Road and Bridge Department hired Atkins in 2015 to conduct a Road and Bridge Inventory Analysis and Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan. At that time, the Smith County Commissioners approved a Citizens Review Committee to review the county’s road plan and to make recommendations on its implementation and a list of roadways to consider for repairs, improvements and maintenance.

Smith County Road and Bridge employees conducted field evaluations of county roads and submitted the data to Atkins.

According to an analysis of 117 collector roads, which tie rural roads together, 29 percent are in poor condition, 61 percent are in good condition and 10 are in excellent condition. Repair is estimated to cost $30,727,153.

Evaluation of 49 arterial roads, which are major roads that connect to state roads, found that 29 percent are in poor condition, 30 percent in good condition and 10 percent were ranked as excellent. Atkins estimates repair for arterial roads will cost $12,807,864.

To repair arterial, collector and local roads, Atkins estimates a total cost of $97,995,434 based on the roads’ existing configuration.

County Engineer Frank Davis has said there are some arterial roads that need to be widened due to their traffic volumes, and cost for those projects were not included in the report.

For the past several years, Smith County has budgeted millions of dollars for “Special Road Projects,” to immediately start work on reconstructing and rebuilding roads after approval of the Capital Improvement Plan according to their June 27 press release.

Davis has said the challenge his department has is many of Smith County’s roads were constructed when those areas were rural, and the roads saw about 30 cars per day. Built to those standards, some of those roads now see 300 cars per day, including heavier loads because of construction. Part of what the Capital Improvement Project will do is help them improve those roads and meet those challenges.

There are 1,904 roads in the Smith County database, 1,182 miles of roadway and 2,357 lane miles (the 10th highest county in Texas).

Smith County is soliciting opinions from residents about their road concerns as part of its commitment to strategic planning and to ensure the county road infrastructure remains solid for decades.

After the Smith County Commissioners Court’s approval on Tuesday, June 27, residents can begin providing input by submitting their comments electronically through an e-form found on the County’s homepage, www.smith-county.com.

In addition, the Smith County Commissioners Court is planning several public open houses to gather input from residents about road concerns and suggested improvements. The first open houses when the public can provide feedback in person include:

-          5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, at the Tyler Police Faulkner Park Substation, 574 W. Cumberland Road in Tyler;
-          5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20, at Lindale City Hall, 105 Ballard Drive in Lindale; and
-          5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 15, at the R.B. Hubbard Facility, “The Hub,” at 304 E. Ferguson in Tyler.

Additional public hearings may be set in other areas of the county, as necessary to accommodate citizens.
The feedback gathered online and through public open houses will be used in addition to the Road and Bridge Inventory Analysis completed by Atkins North America in 2015, and the feedback provided by the Citizen Review Committee during that time to develop an initial framework for a Road and Bridge Strategic Plan.

Commissioners then plan to go back to the public through additional open houses, public hearings and small group presentations during the fall and winter months to present the initial framework for a proposed Road and Bridge Strategic Plan and solicit further, more detailed feedback before finalizing a plan for final consideration.

The online form can be found at www.smith-county.com or in the Commissioners Court offices at 200 E. Ferguson, Suite 100, Tyler, Texas, 75702.

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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