Poor road conditions near Smith Lake discussed

Tilden Dillard shows extreme road damage in the area of County Road 3135 off Old Arley Road.

DOUBLE SPRINGS        -  The deteriorating condition of County Road 3146 and nearby roadways in Houston have again surfaced at a Winston County Commission meeting, where a resident requested the commission pay for damage to a vehicle.
Tilden and Gloria Dillard, residents of county Road 3146, were joined at the June 26, meeting by David Peters, a resident of nearby County Road 3135, to discuss road conditions they described as hardly driveable.
Tilden began addressing the commission about roadway conditions in Dogwood Lane Subdivision at Smith Lake by yelling, “Help.”
Tilden explained he drives a Honda that now has a broken windshield incurred while dodging uneven and broken roadway surfaces.
“I have a motor home in the shop. One little thing had to be done. I’m scared to bring it back,” Tilden said. “I can’t get it to my barn.
“The road is undermined so bad that it’s a ditch on one side and a hole on the other side. My motor home won’t get down there,” Tilden pointed out.  “There is no way you can get down in there without tearing something up.
“I don’t know what you are going to do, but we’ve got to have some help,” Tilden continued.
Peters added that roads from Old Arley Road toward the lake have deteriorated in a variety of locations.
Commissioner for District 1 Rutger Hyche responded he was in that area the previous week, and that plans would be to eventually grind up the old road.
“It’s going to be a gravel road for a really long time,” Hyche said. “It’s not going to get repaved.”
“When are you going to grind it?” Tilden asked.
“Sometime this fall,” Hyche responded. “I can’t do it. I have eight Rebuild (Alabama) projects  right now that my grinder and my grader are on. It’s bad. All we can do is keep putting dirt in it until we can grind it.
“It is not the worst road by no means,” Hyche told Tilden.
“You are going to have to carry me around and show me one that is any worse,” Tilden responded. “That one area is undermined so bad.”
The road was worked on, but no fill or dirt was put underneath the work on the road’s surface, Tilden explained. “If you drive across it with anything heavy, it’s going to tear it all to pieces,” he said.
“I didn’t see that. I went down there last week, and I will send one my guys down there,” Rutger responded.
“I don’t believe any of (the holes) are a foot deep, but it sure feels like it when you hit them,” Tilden responded. “Some of them are a foot deep now.”
“We’ll get down there and take a look at it,” Hyche said. “Like I said, the only option down there is to grind the road.”
“Grinding it up would be fine, it you keep it compacted,” Tilden said.
Peters then asked the commission if any material was available.
“If we can get some manpower and some labor, if we can get a pile of material we can pull from,  we can do some work. We are willing to, if you are tied up...”
Hyche responded the commission was not allowed to do that.
“You can’t supply us the materials to put in it,” Tilden responded.
“No sir,” Hyche said, then referred to Road Engineer James Glasgow seated across the room, adding, “I’m about to drive him crazy because I get three or four phone calls a week people wanting to do that, and we legally can’t.”
Commissioner for District 2 David Cummings interjected concerning legal issues the county would face if it provided residents with the materials.
“If we furnish any materials to fix a county road and one of you gets hit by a car and gets hurt and we knew you were there working, we are liable,” Cummings pointed out. “Our insurance company and attorney said no.”
“We’ve been down that rabbit hole three or four times,” Hyche added.
“You can’t sign a waiver?” Tilden then asked.
“You can sign it, but it won’t be any good,” Commission Chairman Roger Hayes responded. “They can still file suit against the liability. That is what our liability insurance (company) is telling us.”
“What if you just left it out there on the roadside and we come get it?” said Tilden, which met a reaction of laughter from the audience.
Gloria then addressed the commission, noting road conditions in their area, “keep things interesting.”
“You have to drive five miles to get to a decent road, and you have to drive real slow to try to dodge things,” Gloria stated.
“It looks like the liability would be hitting those holes,” Gloria pointed out.
“Are you going to fix the windshield on my Honda?” Tilden then exclaimed.
The commission urged Tilden to file a claim.
Hayes said he knew about County Road 4005 off County Road 22 which was in similar condition.
“We’ve got hills. An ambulance got stuck on it the other day,” Hayes informed. “We are just trying to get to them.”
Hyche said he found a road in the county where he had difficulty traveling in his four-wheel-drive vehicle.
“He’s trying to get to it,” Hayes told the audience about Hyche.
Peters added that several washed out places were occurring on Old Arley Road, which leads to the roads residents had been discussing at the meeting.


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