The Morgan County Council recently adopted its first comprehensive road maintenance plan.
“The community is not happy with the conditions of the roads,” said Morgan County Council Chairman Logan Wilde. “They are falling apart.”
Councilman Lyle Nelson agreed.
“People who come into the valley, who don’t live here, say these are the worst roads they have ever driven on,” Nelson said.
Mike Waite, Morgan County facilities director, and Mark Miller, the county’s consulting engineer, spent time driving every road of the county before compiling them into and prioritizing them on the new maintenance plan.
“When we first started, Mark was shocked and a little disgusted,” Waite said. “The condition is terrible. We don’t want that to be our brand.”
But with only $340,000 coming in each year in Class B road funds, the county doesn’t have much money to draw from to maintain and fix roads, said Councilwoman Tina Kelley. In the past, the county has let those funds accumulate for several years in order to have enough cash to do big projects such as the one in Croydon.
Nelson said it simply may be time to consider additional funding sources. Councilman Robert Kilmer said that it may need to be a topic on a future ballot for voters to consider.
While other road condition studies have been conducted in Morgan County in the past, this is the most comprehensive to date, Miller said.
Waite wants input from the council and community regarding road conditions, and said the adopted plan is a “moving target, a moving, breathing document” to consider each year at budget time.
“Our effort was to paint the picture,” Waite said. “This is a draft copy.”
Already, Kelley said she didn’t see Cascade and Uintah roads in the Highlands on the plan.
“Everybody is concerned about specific roads. Now we have a plan, we want to hear it,” Waite said. “We have given it our best effort so far and quantified it. It would be nice to hear back.”
Considered a 10-year plan, the document lists country roads in six different priority levels. Roads marked in red are “hot topics” worthy of immediate attention, such as Blue Jay Circle, spots of Morgan Valley Drive, Lost Creek, Old Highway Road past Cottonwood Canyon Road, and in front of Silverleaf.
“The problem in Morgan County is there is no curb and gutter anywhere,” Councilman Ned Mecham said. “It is hard to keep shoulders up.”
Although the plan contemplates the current condition of all county roads, it does not consider the costs of repairs and maintenance nor bridges, culverts and structures. Future additions could include a priority formula considering traffic loads, long-term planning, and other conditions beyond surface and subsurface conditions, Waite said.
“It is important to take care of the assets we have, and trying to preserve for as long as we can so it’s not a major reconstruction later because we didn’t maintain today,” Waite said. “You get really overwhelmed because everything needs to be fixed.”