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Transportation budget stretched to cover more roads
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Rockdale County commissioners heard efforts made by the county's transportation department to "stretch the dollar," during the 2014 budget hearing held last Tuesday.

Transportation Director Miguel Valentin's presentation Oct. 14 focused on the county's pavement and road inspection program. Valentin explained how county roads are essentially being recycled to save the county from having to pay to redo the entire road.

He provided commissioners with before and after photos of roads around the county that were treated with means other than a complete overhaul.

"With the previous treatments, we would go in and redo the base of the road. With these other treatments, we would not be redoing the base," Valentin said. "We're basically working with what's there."

Valentin described it as a "rehabilitation treatment," that benefits the county by making it possible to treat more roads and "buy (the county) a little more time."

These rehabilitation treatments can last 15 to 20 years with possible cracking showing up in three to four years, according to Valentin.

One treatment, called HA5, involved applying a heavy-duty sealant to the road. Valentin described it as "almost brand new asphalt," that will "keep water out the pavement for quite a long time."

Microsurfacing was another economical treatment that Valentin said costs one third of regular pavement.

"We're utilizing different techniques to be able to stretch the dollar so that we do have to apply to pavement maintenance and resurfacing work," Valentin said.

However, the decision to rehabilitate or complete treat the roads depend on the road's condition.

"If the road is so far gone that we actually have to go in and redo it ... we would remove all the existing pavement," Valentin said.

After explaining the treatments, Valentin said the explanation helps to see where the funding requests are going.

"In a sense, I'm asking for an allocation of funds and I don't have an offsetting revenue," Valentin said. "But I do have a savings that I can show that if we're able to apply those funds, (will) keep the county from having to spend that additional (funds)."

Valentin also went through the projects to be completed this year, which included evaluation and inspection of the 510 miles of paved roads in the county.

County workers will address maintenance patching and crack sealing, rather than paying a contractor to do the work. Even though the county does not have some of the specialized equipment, Valentin described in-house workers as a better option.
"We have done 1,800 tons of patching on projects that we would have had the contractor to do the work - in this year alone," Valentin said.

"What does that equate to in terms of savings?" Commissioner Oz Nesbit asked.

"In terms of savings, it's probably well in excess of $100,000," Valentin said. "At minimum."

In addition to cost savings, the in-house work speeds up the project, according to Valentin, since specialty contractors do not have to wait for other specialty contractors in order to start work.