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Elkins Creek Road residents tired of waiting for improvements

Bad roads. It's a subject that makes residents see red, government officials groan, and auto mechanics think of money.

Some Elkins Creek Road residents say they've waited long enough to see their three or four miles of roadway paved, and they don't intend to wait any longer.

They showed up at Thursday's Lawrence County Commission meeting to demand that Elkins Creek be paved. They also want Hecla water lines extended to their homes as well. They've circulated petitions within their community in support of both projects.

Resident Charles Thompson said that three years ago he approached the commission about the problem and was told there was grant money to pay for the project. He said the road has not been paved yet.

"It's had tar and chip, but that's a waste money," Thompson said. "I'm asking you today to fix it, or I'm going to Columbus to ask them to shut off funds to Lawrence County until Elkins Creek Road is fixed."

"How'd you guys like to drive on Elkins Creek and bust your tires and get your car aligned every 60 days?" fellow resident George Malone asked. "You buy a car and in two years' time its tore up."

Commissioner George Patterson advised them they were looking for money from the wrong county office and suggested he talk to County Engineer David Lynd.

"Money for his projects do not come through here," Patterson told him. "We only give him money for office supplies. Decisions about roads are made by his office. No money comes through here to make road improvements."

Patterson said indeed, there are grant monies available to pave roads, but that money must be requested by and goes to the engineer's office.

"We suggest sometimes, but that's as far as it goes," Commissioner Paul Herrell added. "The only thing we can do is send letters and petitions again."

Thompson said he and others had gone to the engineer's office, and requested to speak with Lynd. Instead, they got an office worker who told them if they wanted to see their road fixed, they would have to ask the county commissioners for the funds.

The commission agreed to send the road paving petition to Lynd, with a letter, asking that he consider the matter.

When contacted by the Ironton Tribune, Lynd said he sympathized with the plight of the Elkins Creek Road residents and with people elsewhere who also have to navigate their cars along less-than-ideal roadways, but his budget only stretches so far.

"Lawrence County has 375 miles of roadway, and right now, 100 miles have chip-and-seal surface," he said. "We realize this is not an ideal situation. We would like to pave all the roads, but it costs a about $60,000 a mile, minimum cost, to pave a road.

"If you add this up, 100 miles of road at $60,000 is $6 million dollars. Our annual budget is $3 million. No on wants to pave these roads more than I do. But if we want to pave the roads, we need a program to pave them all and do it for everybody. How do you decide which two miles of road you're going to do?"

Lynd said his office is funded by gas tax monies and monies from the sale of license plates. Neither the state's gas tax nor its license plate fees have been raised recently.

He said these kinds of increases aren't popular, but he thinks this is something the state may have to consider to pay for the cost of road and bridge improvements and upkeep.

As for obtaining water service, the commission agreed to send a letter to Hecla Water officials asking what it would take to extend water lines to the affected homes. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune