Jesse Hamm officially got the title of interim county road and bridge superintendent last week, and this past weekend he got what goes along with the job: Rain-soaked roads.
“I know there are a lot of folks out there that need attention, and we’re going to get out there and help them as soon as possible,” Hamm said.
Early December rains in 2014 created physical and political quagmires for county officials, exposing maintenance issues that, combined with late spring rains, spilled into summer, culminating in a July town hall meeting that drew about 300 disgruntled county residents.
However, Hamm inherited a road system that received increased attention, which should help weather the current storm.
“Two weeks ago we had rain and ice, so we’re a little behind,” he said.
Crews were out this weekend working on four areas where water and debris swamped blacktop roads. Hamm said it appeared the western part of the county, with Nighthawk Rd. as a dividing line, got more rain than the eastern half.
Weather stations and people with home rain gauges reported from 1-1/2 to 2 inches of rain across the county, The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Sunday, but as of Monday morning the South Cottonwood reporting station at Florence showed levels well below flood stage.
As county crews go about addressing the latest road concerns, drivers aren’t likely to encounter oversized gravel of the kind that created washboard-like rides and worries about wear and tear on tires. Hamm said there was an ample supply of inch-and-a-half gravel.
“We haven’t been using the bigger gravel,” he said. “The quarry has been doing a good job. If a road is losing its base, that’s about the only time we’ll use that big stuff. You’ve got to choose the correct roads to put it on; you can’t put it on harder-surfaced roads.”
There should be enough money to cover gravel needs until a new budget year begins in January, Hamm said. The only challenge is a familiar one: Find and fix the problems as soon as possible.
“It doesn’t happen as soon as people would like, but we’re trying,” Hamm said.