|By MURRAY BISHOFF|
Extreme shifts in temperatures have taken a toll on rural roads in Barry County. While the weather warming to spring-like conditions last week may have been welcomed by residents, the freezing-and-thawing cycle has created major challenges those maintaining roadways.
Concrete roads in the cities have held up in the recent temperature shifts. Chip and seal as well as concrete roads have taken a significantly hard hit, especially in the center of the county.
In Cassville, City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck has established a road condition hotline. Motorists can call in problems at 417-847-4441.
In the Monett Special Road District, Commissioner Pete Rauch reported crews last week made daily responses to new problem spots.
"Farm Road 1100, south of Highway 60, is probably the worst," Rauch said, "but of course it gets lots of heavy truck traffic. The places we dug out and hot mixed over several years are holding up well. We will need to ask for folks' patience as the guys address the problem areas."
Locations of trouble spots are being tracked for repair with hot-mix asphalt next summer, Rauch added.
Some of the worst problems have surfaced in the Purdy area. Marvin Carney, foreman with the Purdy Special Road District, reported Farm Roads 1095 and 1087 are particularly bad.
"When these roads were dirt, you'd get stuck on them," Carney said. "We put a lot of big rocks on them to build them up. Now you can't find the big rocks. It's like the rocks go down and the mud comes up. Other roads I dug out two to three feet to put down shot rock, a kind of limestone. Some of them have filled up fairly well. A few have turned back into clay."
Carney said Highways B and H, which are maintained by the state, have numerous bad spots on them. Two or three roads north of Purdy in the Kings Prairie district and Highway W, west of Butterfield, have deteriorated badly as well.
"I've been 20 years with the district in May," Carney said. "I've seen it do this before, but never this bad. It's more widespread this time."
Roads around Purdy are prone to developing clay pockets, which Carney equated with "yellow pond mud." In some places, roads prepared with base rock and covered with an inch of gravel mixed with oil have held up. Carney expected newer roads made by this double-chip-and-seal method would be the first to break up. Surprisingly, many have not, while others, all built the same, have fallen apart.
The real problem, Carney explained, has been surface ground thawing, but the moisture has been unable to sink through the deeper freeze line. Consequently the surface has stayed wet and given way in many places.
This week the area asphalt factory has been able to produce a batch of cold mix. Carney said he got a crew to patch a number of bad spots, helping to preserve what remained of some roads.
"We'll probably patch the roads with base rock and hope we can come up with enough money to reseal them," Carney said. "I'm afraid with the price of things we may not get all the roads back to pavement. Some may go back to dirt."
In addition to high water taking its toll on rural roads twice last year, Carney said his road district has received around $20,000 less last year in sales tax revenue from the county. Two years ago asphalt sold for $25 a ton and last year it was $70 a ton. Oil for chip and seal work more than doubled in the last year as well.
"The fact is Purdy has the same 60 miles of road and trip the price of material," Carney said. "What do you do? You do what you can and go on."