Turtle Beach saga goes on and on PDF E-mail

Dear Editor:

The saga of the Turtle Beach and Lac-denado Road goes on ... and on.

North R Road has been treacherous for over 15 years as it is wash-boarded, rutted and pot-holed. It is unsafe for drivers and damaging to our vehicles. Yet, numerous requests to grade and hard surface this 1/3 mile of road have been ignored, stalled or action promised, but not fulfilled. In 2004 883 vehicles were recorded (traffic counter) traveling this road in six days. At that time the county board put this road on the county’s 1 & 6 Year Road Improvement Plan and, in 2007, the board voted to move this hard surface project to top priority. Nothing happened other than promises it would be done soon.

During this time the road became so wash-boarded and rough that a Turtle Beach resident filled in holes and smoothed out the road with his farm equipment. We were told by the county to stop immediately.

In 2010 commissioner Larry Fox reviewed the proposed county road budget and presented three options, each covering the expected annual road maintenance/purchases, with enough money left to asphalt North R Road. But at the commissioner meeting, when Fox motioned to move forward with the R Road project using the budgets he presented, the roads superintendent was opposed, citing lack of money available even though the budget figures showed otherwise. Larry’s motion did not get seconded.

In March of 2011 we had another meeting with the commissioners. By now the R Road project has been on the plan for eight years and nothing had been done. By this time the county had collected over $200,000 in county taxes from the property at these two developments.

In 2012 the commissioners approved a much cheaper “fix” for this road: They agreed to re-grade, pack and apply six inches of old millings in two-inch layers at a cost of $15,972, using the county’s stockpiled millings with a hot mix over the top. However, no oil was applied and the milled road broke up immediately resulting in large potholes. There was a great deal of “he says/she says”  as to why no oil was added, but no one from the county followed through on this and it appears this project was set up to fail. The roads superintendant has proposed removing these millings and returning this to a gravel road.

We oppose the return of a gravel road -- why repeat what didn’t work in the first place? 

We met with the commissioners a month ago. They confirmed it is the worst road in Hamilton County with the most traffic. They then agreed to take bids for asphalting this road, but warned they may reject all bids. The advertisement for bids ran in the paper for three weeks with the bid opening date of Sept. 16. But there were no bids on Sept. 16 because the road department had not submitted the specifications required for contractors to prepare bids. No specs = no bids. We lost three weeks of critical time. We later were told by the roads department the delay in the specifications was due to the commissioners not approving the cost of the survey necessary to write the specs.

On Sept. 16 the board voted to start over with the bid process promising us the specs would be available soon. On Monday, Sept. 23, we learned incorrect specs had been inadvertently submitted but would be corrected yet that day.

Is all of this just “dumb luck” or are we simply being duped by a ploy to dangle the promise of a better road with no intentions of ever following through?

Over the years our residents have spent thousands of dollars on vehicle repairs attributed to the condition of this road (front ends, ball joints, struts, tires, wheel bearings, alignments, etc). Last week approximately $7,000 of these bills were turned into the county insurance carrier as claims against the county and more are to come. Last week the school bus broke down on this road, completely losing power and the mechanic’s diagnosis was the rutted road vibrated the electrical system loose, making the bus inoperable. This week  the roads department put up new 20 mph speed limit signs confirming the safety liability of R road. But, the washboard surface causes severe vibration at any speed.

Our two developments have greatly increased Hamilton County’s tax base. Most county leaders welcome and encourage growth in their county, recognizing new developments increase their tax base and the new people purchase goods and services locally. We have met resistance at every turn with the commissioners and roads department. We ask these people to live up to the opening sentence in the Hamilton County Employee Handbook which every employee must read and sign. It states: “The Hamilton County Board recognizes and declares the necessity of providing the most efficient and highest quality services for the citizens of Hamilton County. This should include asphalting  North R Road to allow County citizens safe and reasonable access.

Shirley Peterson
Resident of Turtle Beach

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