Road work frustrates residents

Unfinished street projects in northern Boone County lead
to heated discussions.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:18 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kurt Armstrong has lived on Barber Road in northern Boone County for almost 25 years. Tree branches used to hang down over the dirt road, and the ditches were dangerous. Cars and trucks would rumble down the lane, leaving Armstrong and his neighbors in a dust storm.

The Boone County Public Works Department this summer began preparing Barber Road for a chip-and-seal surface, and Armstrong couldn’t have been happier.

“I think it’s great what they’ve done so far,” he said. “It’s a wonderful blessing.”

That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that the department failed to finish its work on Barber Road. It also failed to finish work on similar projects on Liddell Lane and on Crofton Hall, Drane and Oakland Church roads. That led to a heated discussion among Boone County commissioners at a work session last Wednesday.

County roads in the Northern District were prepared for chip-and-seal, but the resurfacing was never done, Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said. Last week, he demanded answers from Public Works Director David Mink about why roads in the southern part of the county were chip-and-sealed while those in the north were not.

“I might as well bring this up now,” Elkin said at the meeting. “I think it’s not fair that everything got done in the south and nothing got done in the north.”

Mink said it’s not a good idea to try finishing the northern chip-and-seal projects this late in the year because oil used as part of the process needs several weeks of warm weather to cure properly. Without the proper cure, the rock surface would come loose during the winter.

Mink said heavy rain in early June put his crews behind on road projects. And, he said, “We had problems with the machine that lays down the oil and also had problems with the vendor that was supposed to furnish the oil.”

At the meeting last week, Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre agreed it was too late to finish the projects, saying it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. Elkin, however, took issue with that assessment Friday.

“The roads were scheduled, budgeted and promised to the people. We put all this energy and funding into the roads; to stop at the 11th hour was a mistake,” he said, adding that he hopes the projects will be done as soon as possible next year.

“I would like us to keep moving forward with an aggressive road schedule. That’s what the people who live on the roads voted for and expect,” Elkin said, referring to the half-cent sales tax that finances road projects.

Mink said that the northern roads would be listed for completion in early summer and that he is “taking steps in the department so that we’re able to complete the work, and do quality work.”

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