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Saving money

Lower asphalt costs, mild winter help bottom line for county highways
Saving money
The lower than average snowfall this winter has been good news for area road maintenance budgets.
Saving money
The lower than average snowfall this winter has been good news for area road maintenance budgets.

Taylor County will see some relief in maintaining and improving the county’s roads through lower asphalt prices for summer projects.

At the March 20 highway committee meeting, members approved accepting the material and truck bids for the coming construction season.

According to highway commissioner Ben Stanfley, the price for hot mix asphalt was about 8% less than last year’s bid prices.

To put this in perspective, Stanfley estimated it would result in a $72,000 savings in asphalt alone for the planned summer projects. He said chip seal material is also coming in lower this year with a 4% drop from last year resulting in an overall savings of about $12,000 or about $500 per mile less than last year.

“Overall materials are down,” Stanfley said of the bids which include vari- See HIGHWAY on page 4 ous types and sizes of gravel and other road building material.

Stanfley noted that with a number of projects coming up, the lower prices will allow them to do a little more next year than what they have planned.

One area that was higher was with bids for crack filling on the roads. The committee followed Stanfley’s recommendation to deny all the bids for that work with crews to do it in-house within the highway department.

Stanfley also reported on the mild winter and its impact on his department’s budget. He noted that despite having few snowstorms this year, the county’s billing to the state for state highway maintenance will be similar to the past since crews have been busy doing other work such as cutting back trees in the highway right of way. “They have been doing a lot of brush cutting,” Stanfley said.

The county crew has also kept busy getting ahead on maintenance projects on the county highways. He noted that in January and February the impact of the mild winter resulted in a savings of $110,000 compared to the past three years.

While winter is far from over, savings in the winter road maintenance areas will help additional road maintenance efforts in the rest of the year.

In other business, committee members:

 Received an update that crews have started the inventory of bridges between 6 and 20 feet in length in the county. Stanfley said the state will be requiring the towns and municipalities to hire an outside company to do the inspections on these bridges once the inventory is complete rather than them being able to contract with county highway departments for the work. Stanfley said of the county highway commissioners in the state, 39 did not want to do the additional inspections, while 33 (including Taylor County) were in support of the counties doing the work.

 Approved starting the process to hire a new highway department worker for the Gilman area due to the retirement of Randy Lewan. Lewan started with the highway department on June 11, 1979 and has announced plans to retire on April 18. At 45 years with the county, he is the longest currently serving county employee.