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County will not contribute toward paving of unimproved or gravel roads

 Posted: 11:00 AM August 14, 2013

Jackson County will no longer pay for the paving work on unimproved and gravel roads in the county, putting the financial responsibility on citizens instead.

The Board of Commissioners' decision this morning means paving work on unimproved or gravel roads must be paid for by property owners. The county will provide maintenance on those roads if they are brought up to current construction standards.

County officials point to dwindling federal timber dollars that once went into the county's road fund as the primary reason for changing their policy.

"It's purely a budget and cost issue," said Jackson County Roads and Parks Director John Vial. "Before, when we had lots of timber revenue, that would have made lots more sense."

The road fund has lost about $4 million in federal dollars since 2008, knocking it down to about $7 million. Vial said those reserves are needed for emergencies and cannot be spent on road improvements or paving work.

"There's no way for us to finance that now," Vial said.

There are about 77 miles of unimproved roads around Jackson County. In the past, the county provided financial assistance for paving if a private party brought it up to standard. County Administrator Danny Jordan said requests for making improvements have been quiet.

"We haven't had many of these happen in many years," Jordan said.

There are an additional 164 miles of county-maintained gravel roads in Jackson County. In the past, the county had an unofficial practice of splitting the cost with residents to pave those sections. Like the unimproved roads, county officials said they cannot afford to use the road funds to do the paving work on gravel roads anymore.

— Ryan Pfeil

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