WASHINGTON COUNTY - As heavy rain events recently highlighted residents' concerns about the condition of county roads, several road projects were being processed for state funding.
Washington County Commissioners have submitted requests to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for funding of repair, widening, or resurfacing projects through the agency's Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) and Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP). Not all requests have been accepted, however.
The purpose of SCOP is to assist in paving unpaved roads, repairing or rehabilitating county bridges, addressing road-related drainage improvements, resurfacing county roads, or constructing capacity or safety improvements to county roads.
The county submitted SCOP applications in March 2017 for Greenhead Road in the amount of $2,592,562.41 and River Road in the amount of $1,753,499.21. Neither road was selected for funding.
Commissioners received better news about Kent Road. While the project was not scheduled for funding until Fiscal Year 2019, FDOT agreed last July to allow the county to proceed before Nov. 2017 to allow the county time to obtain necessary right-of-ways. Construction is set to begin by Jan. 2019 and the project to be completed by Dec. 2019 with reimbursement from the state expected in the 2019 fiscal year.
Buckhorn Boulevard, which is also included in the FDOT District 3 Five-Year Plan, has $315,000 in flexible pavement reconstruction engineering and design scheduled for FY 2019 with construction scheduled for 2021 in the amount of $2,832,000.
The SCRAP program is designed to assist small governments like Washington County in resurfacing and reconstructing county roads.
Both submitted in April 2017, Obie Street ($99,751) and Bonnett Pond Road ($1,179,728) were selected for FY 2018 funding and are now in the design phase.
County Road 277 (Cope Road) is funded for design only in the amount of $136,685, while Old Bonifay Road is funded for design in FY 2019 in the amount of $114,000 and for construction in 2021 in the amount of $1,040,251.
Washington County Engineer Cliff Knauer states that a separate funding request has also been made to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a grant that would pay for paving on Williams Road, as well as the installation of low water crossings. The state would pay 60 percent of the project in a 60/40 matching grant.
Knauer has also made a recommendation that officials revisit the county paving matrix, which was last updated in Feb. 2016.
The matrix is designed to help serve as a guide for prioritizing larger scale road projects. The spreadsheet scores Washington County’s dirt roads based on input and rankings from the sheriff’s office, school system, emergency services, postal service and county maintenance staff on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst rating.
Currently, the top ten roads listed on the three-year old matrix are Buckhorn Blvd., Gilberts Mill Road, Crystal Lake Drive, Ledger Road, Firetower Road, Union Hill Road, North Silver Lake Road, South Silver Lake Road, Orange Hill Road, and Sylvania Road.
"The paving matrix is just a planning tool," said Knauer. "A lot of other factors have to be considered as well, such as the number of homes per mile on each road, annual maintenance cost of the road, and the amount of repetitive damage to the road."
Commissioners also taken into consideration which roads may serve as alternate routes to more congested roads.