Residents angry over conditions of roads in Bankhead

Black Pond Fire Chief Terry Tidwell says it’s a rough situation for firefighters responding to calls on County Road 315 due to its deteriorating condition.

DOUBLE SPRINGS    -  A group of residents who live along County Road 315 in the Black Pond community informed the Winston County Commission they have traveled a rough road trying to get road improvements made, urging commissioners to help them with funding and resources.
Residents were seated around the room at the commission’s June 24, meeting, requesting urgent help from Chairman Roger Hayes and Commissioners David Cummings and Rutger Hyche about a situation that has been ongoing for some time.
James Painter was the first to address the commission by saying, “It’s got to be the sorriest road in Winston County.
“For more than two years, there’s been nothing more put on that road, not even a road grader,” Painter stated. “We’ve taken our tractors and filled in ditches.  Not holes, but ditches.
“There are at least two places in that road where you have to stop to get through the ditches. Something needs to be done,” Painter added.

Bruce Scott, also a resident who lives along the road, said the U.S. Post Office will not deliver in that particular area due to the road’s condition.
“I have broken an axel on my four-wheel drive truck. I can’t keep my cars aligned,” Scott said. “I know a lot of this comes down to money.  How can we get the resources?  We must have a negative budget if they are not putting money to fix that road.”
Ed Partridge noted he had moved from Birmingham to Clear Creek, but has also faced problems with County Road 315.
“I have had three grandchildren blow a tire, a brand new tire, on that rocky road,” Partridge said.
“I’m 77-years-old,” he added. “I worry about safety. It would  take an ambulance a long time to get down there.  We would love to see something done to improve that road.”
Jeff Howell, along with a couple of other neighbors, have paid from their own resources to maintain the road as best they can, they said.
“The road is so bad, you literally have to stop to go over the holes,” Howell said.
“When Rutger came into office, I called him, talked with him about it, and he said he would try to do something by July or August of 2023,” Howell pointed out.
“We’ve had all the people in the neighborhood put in work orders, so I know numerous work orders have been put out there,” Howell stated.
“If a fire truck or an ambulance has to come back there, they are going to be so delayed because the road is so bad,” Howell continued. “It’s a major safety concern.”
Howell stated the federal government has allocated $140,000 to the road systems in the Bankhead National Forest - where County Road 315 is located - because Winston County does not receive any property taxes off any federally-owned property within its borders.
Hyche noted the county had sent the agreement for maintaining County Road 315, which has been officially classified as a forest service co-op road, to the U.S. Forest Service  for review.  Forest Service co-op roads are roads that not only the county, but the U.S. Forest Service have joint responsibilities to maintain, county officials said at the meeting.
Hyche recalled he made a video back in February and posted it on social media, asking citizens to write U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt and request assistance about the road.
“I have learned something in the past 18 months since taking office in dealing with state and federal government: nothing happens at the snap of a finger,” Hyche stated. “We still haven’t gotten that agreement signed.”
 County Road Engineer James Glasgow explained the Resource Allocation Committee funds that come through the U.S. Department of Agriculture have to go through the proper channels before they are awarded.
“It does not happen overnight either,” Glasgow said.
The county applied for funding to cover all of its co-op roads with assistance from the Forest Service and was awarded within the past year $140,000, based on approval by the state RAC committee, according to Glasgow.
“It’s not going to go far,” said Glasgow. “It’s going to go $140,000 further than what we’ve had.
“It’s not going to fix every co-op road. We’ll have to divvy it out.  We’ve got 116 miles of co-op roads.”



See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
Subscribe now!