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Officials: no one answer for dirt roads
Loads of crushed rock applied in some areas
flood
Ogeechee River waters flow over Riverview Road in February 2020 cutting off Woodwards Landing after severe rains last year. With heavy rains in the past few days, Bulloch County commissioners are discussing methods to mitigate dirt road issues. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Monday, Bulloch County road crews hauled and packed “crush and run” type rock into wet and rutted areas of five dirt roads in an effort to stabilize them and allow residents to drive in and out.

Meanwhile remote sections of three county roads have been closed because of damage, reportedly aggravated in some instances by log trucks working or by people playing in the mud with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

So, dirt roads were a topic again when the county Board of Commissioners met at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, even though it was the first sunny morning in several days. This is, after all, Bulloch County, which with more than 700 county-maintained, unpaved miles has some claim to being “the dirt road capital” of Georgia.

Chairman Roy Thompson called Public Works Director Dink Butler forward.

“Everybody has an opinion about dirt roads and how to fix them, everybody. …,” Thompson said. “I hear it all the time on Facebook and … and the biggest thing is this. Is there one fix for all dirt roads? Are all dirt roads the same?”

It was a rhetorical question, of course. Butler said, “No sir,” since they agree that there are different ways to fix different roads.

“When I hear all we need to do is put in a ditch and crown the road and clean out a pipe, is that a fix for all dirt roads?” Thompson asked. “And say you’ve got that beautiful, two foot, two and a half foot-deep ditch, and it comes a four-inch rain, what happens to the dirt on top of that road?”

“A good part of it winds up in that ditch,” Butler said.

“The ditch fills up again and then we have to start the process all over again,” Thompson said.

 

Rock-patched roads

He noted that one of the roads where Butler’s crews applied crushed rock had a gully – Butler said it was 15 to 20 feet wide – washed across it during heavier rains one year earlier. This was the dirt portion of Macedonia Road toward Williams Landing on the Ogeechee River.

A gully has not developed this season, when the rain has been protracted but seldom as heavy. But sheets of water have flowed across the road, and the loads of rock were intended to stabilize the roadbed, Butler said.

“We had five different roads yesterday that had residences blocked where they could not get access in and out,” Butler told the commissioners. “We probably spent close to $20,000 in rock yesterday.”

Other road segments where this material was applied included Oakwood Drive of U.S. Highway 301 South, Furman Road off Coley Boyd Road, and Rad Denmark and Simmons Pond Road.

 

Closed segments

Meanwhile, three sections of road remained closed as of Tuesday morning, but in each of these areas residents have other ways to and from their homes, Butler said. The closed sections are Coursey Road between Seed Tick Road and Highway 119 on the southern end of the county, Buie Driggers Road between Bryant Still Road and Holloway Road, and Sand Hill Road between Mud Road and M.P. Martin Road.

As for cleaning out culvert pipes, the county has an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 pipes, Butler said.

“Especially from December through March, when you start getting the volume of moisture we’re getting … it’s detrimental to a dirt road system,” he  said.

After saying that “all roads are different,” Thompson, whose home is on a dirt road, suggested that there might be one solution to dirt roads after all.

“I wish – now this is a statement I would make and this is just what I will say – that every dirt road in Bulloch County was paved,” Thompson said during the commissioners’ meeting, “and that’s going  to go against the grain for a lot of people because we cannot get right of way to pave these roads. They want to live on a dirt road.”

“The point that I wanted to make is, there is not a simple answer,” Thompson added. “We’re doing everything that we can do to get people to their homes, and I was going to say as economically as we can, but rocks is not an economical solution but it’s the only solution.”

 

Logging & bogging

Butler observed that logging and bogging – but he didn’t really use that phrase – are currently contributing to dirt road damage in Bulloch County.

“Two main issues come to my mind to start with,” he said.  “There’s a lot of timbering going on in Bulloch County right now, especially on the dirt roads, paved roads too, and we can see that deterioration in those roads because they weren’t designed to handle that kind of traffic.”

Some loggers fill in county ditches for access, promising to restore them when the logging is complete, but then don’t do it, he  said.

“The second issue is, unnecessary traffic in certain areas where people take their off-road vehicles, four-wheel drives and they want to go play in the mud, and they create a lot more of our issues than  we can deal with.”

The county crew closed the above-listed stretch of Buie Driggers Road on Monday. The same segment stayed closed for several months last year. Butler said it was obvious to him that all-terrain vehicle drivers had “intentionally tried to tear that road up,” over the weekend.

 

More rain expected

Although some rain has occurred over many days so far in 2021, cumulative rainfall over the past seven days was moderate in most places.

For the seven days that ended Monday, a gauge with a Brooklet address registered 2.48 inches, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow network, a volunteer organization, at its website, www.cocorahs.org. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge on the Ogeechee River at Rocky Ford measured 2.57 inches of rainfall in seven days, as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, as seen at www2.usgs.gov.

But the National Weather Service forecast at www.weather.gov has the chance of rain in the Statesboro area increasing to 90% again by Thursday night.

 

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