Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 30, 2014

Commissioners study roads

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Each Henderson County Commissioner has completed a report on the roads in his precinct, stating the condition of the roadway.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said completion of a road report is a requirement for the county to designate a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone, and apply for grant funds available to help repair roads damaged by oil and gas activity.

The county qualifies for  $286,000 of the $225 million allocated by the Texas Legislature for the purpose. This is the first time that Henderson County has submitted an analyzed road report.

“Along with the road report, the county is submitting reports that delineates those that have had deterioration during  fiscal year 2013  caused by oil exploration,” Geeslin said.

The court is paying special attention to sections of Precinct 1 and Precinct 4, where considerable oil and gas-industry activity has taken place.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Scotty Thomas said checking each road was quite an undertaking, but educational for him since he is in his first term in the office.

“It was a good experience for me,” Thomas said. “I thought I knew where all of them were, but I did find out I had a different number from when I was elected.”

Redistricting usually shifts bits of roadway from one precinct to another, and the most recent maps were no exception.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said his precinct actually lost a bit of road mileage.

“Like Commissioner Thomas, I realized I didn’t have as many roads as I used to have,” Lawrence said. “I lost a few miles to Mr. (Pct. 4 Commissioner Wade) McKinney, and the city of Chandler annexed some of my roads. I lost a couple of miles over there.”

The detailed report lists the condition of each road, culvert or bridge in the commissioner’s precinct. The commissioner must estimate the amount of money reasonably necessary for maintenance of the roads in the precinct during the next county fiscal year. He must also determine any bridges, culverts or other improvements necessary to place the roads in the precinct in good condition. They must also estimate the probable cost of the improvements.

The Texas Transportation Code requires that the report be entered into the minutes of Commissioners Court to be considered in improving the roads and determining the amount of taxes imposed for the roads. Commissioners Court approved the report on Tuesday, and is scheduled to meet Thursday to formally identify and adopt a CERTZ Zone.

McKinney said the section of the code that prescribes the road report has been around for more than a century, and was originally designed to allow grand juries a means of knowing what roads in the county needed work. It was modified to apply to the CERTZ grant.

  “This was a way to get counties to put forth the information, so the legislature could have it available as they struggle with transportation issues,” McKinney said.