Call it a blessing or call it a curse.
Barton County is criss-crossed by nearly 400 miles of paved blacktops, ranking it fourth among the state’s 105 counties for such infrastructure. This is great for motorists, farmers, oil patch workers, cyclists and others who rely on these roads in this primarily rural area.
However, this comes with a high cost. Factoring in materials, labor and painting, it costs $11,000 per mile to maintain them.
As standard course, the Barton County Road and Bridge Department reseals or surfaces these roads on a four- or five-year cycle. This year, the department is focused in the northwest part of the county.
Crews are planning on finishing 80 miles this summer. That comes to $900,000.
This maintenance is crucial because its maintains the integrity of the road bed, Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips said. The sealing keeps water from seeping through the surface and causing cracks that lead to potholes.
The road department has the biggest share of the county budget. But, county officials realize it costs less in the long run to keep up what the county has than to let it deteriorate and have to replace it later.
Maintaining county roads is one of our basic duties for a county government.
So, as we venture out onto the back roads, let remember what it takes to keep them in shape. Let us also remember how important they are to our daily lives.