Government, Latest News, Preston County

Preston Commissioners want answers on winter plans for reclaimed roads

KINGWOOD — Preston County Commissioners want to know more about the state’s plans for reclaimed roads.

“I received multiple pictures that four-wheel-drive trucks were having trouble with ruts. These are bus routes. These are roads that they reclaimed,” Commission President Samantha Stone said Tuesday. “With a little bit of rain, within days these ruts were massive.”

She contacted the State Division of Highways (DOH), which “immediately” fixed some of the ruts, Stone said.

Stone said one taxpayer asked that taxes be lowered on his home because it now sits on a gravel road, not tar and chipped. Assessor Connie Ervin said she hasn’t been contacted about it.

“It’s a fair question,” Commissioner Dave Price said.

The discussion began at the commission’s weekly meeting after County Administrator Kathy Mace proposed setting up a Zoom meeting with the new District 4 engineer and other DOH officials.

Mace said as winter approaches it might be good to meet, “just to go over what happened in the spring and summer and what we can look forward to.”

“We are now fielding more calls about what people can anticipate on some of these reclaimed roadways for winter time care,” Mace said.

Price said he has also heard horror stories about the reclaimed roads.

During reclamation, a milling machine grinds the existing material to three to four inches. A grader then slopes the road and a roller compacts it. Finally stone is applied.

In some instances tar and chip or paving is added later. But the DOH told the newspaper last week it won’t be able to do that this fiscal year to all 24 roads being reclaimed in Preston County and it may take several years.

As previously reported, the DOH plans to reclaim a total of 46 miles in Preston. The procedure is cheaper than paving or tar and chip.

Roads are selected based on their average daily travel, typically less than 100 vehicles, according to the DOH.

To be reclaimed are Centenary-Mountaindale, Teets, Eisentrout, Cherry Grove-Mountaindale, Seese, Henry Collins, Spiker, Shaw Hill, Mount Nebo/Bull Run, John Miller, Beech Run, Pell Hollow, Irish Ridge, Stoney Run, Mountain Vista/Vargo, Burke, Stone Hollow, Chestnut Ridge, Birch Root, Red Rock, Hog Back, Herb Harsh, Terra Alta Lake, Burnside Camp and Afton.

The DOH was “very vague” about what comes next for the reclaimed roads, Stone said. Sometimes a good gravel road is good enough, she said.

“But I do believe that we are regressing when we take some of these roads back to different things. Some of these roads are very dangerous left in the condition in which they are. We just have to know what the end game is on these roads. People deserve to know,” she said.

As for winter, “I think they’re hoping it will freeze up so that they’re not down to the axle,” in mud, Price said.