As winter winds down and crumbling roadways emerge, a new study from AAA reveals that pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. With two-thirds of Americans concerned about potholes on local roadways, AAA cautions drivers to remain alert to avoid pothole damage, and urged state and local governments to fully fund and prioritize road maintenance to reduce vehicle damage, repair costs and driver frustration.
Thankfully, that is the case locally.
The Barton County Road and Bridge Department has a good preventive maintenance program. The department has a four-year sealing program along with an aggressive asphalt overlay and maintenance program. There are 105 miles on the agenda for this year.
“Barton County does however have 389 miles of asphalt roadways to maintain and funding must be maintained to prevent deterioration of the asphalt,” Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips said. Once the surface of the roadways becomes compromised, potholes and other deformations are a hazard.
“Barton County Staff continually fill potholes on a regular basis throughout the winter and if a serious holes are reported, every effort is made to correct the problem as soon as possible,” he said, adding most Barton County blacktops have few potholes. However, they can form daily under the right conditions.
“Our streets are in great shape,” said Great Bend Street Superintendent Mike Crawford. The city has engaged in an on-going rehabilitation effort over the past several years to bring up the quality of the streets.
Sure, some may disagree with Phillips and Crawford about the conditions of roads and streets. There are hundreds of miles of streets and roads in Barton County and one only has to drive rural roads in other counties to see how good we have it here.
The bigger issue is at the state level where Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature keep robbing the Kansas Department of Transportation to the tune of a $1 million per day to cover revenue shortfalls. This is incredibly short sighted.
In the past, roads in Kansas were an object of pride for the state. Perhaps that might not always be the case.