When driving through the county or the cities, be it Richmond or Berea, many locals are no strangers of swerving to miss potholes, or involuntarily bouncing due to rough roadways. Many taxpayers are questioning the deteriorating conditions of roads, including a Berea resident who submitted a question asking just that as part of our series, Ask It Madison County.
In the submission, the Berean complained about the "horrible shape" of roadways in both Richmond and Berea, referencing Chestnut Street in Berea, I-75 Northbound going towards Duncannon and Manna Drive in Richmond, saying that both cities did a "horrific job" in maintaining the roads, and then labeling the work done as "amateur and lazy."
However, only one of the roads mentioned in the complaint, Manna Drive, is in fact one that can be handled by the city. Like many other roads running through the city and the county, Chestnut St. and the Duncannon Bridge are maintained and monitored by the state, making the state responsible for their repairs.
Upon hearing the complaint, Deputy Judge/Executive Colleen Chaney responded saying, "This is a perfect example of how people think it's Madison County's, City of Richmond's, or the City of Berea's problem. Many of those roads they mentioned are either a state road, or a federal road, and a lot of people just don't know that."
She went on to say that a lot of people are unaware of the difference between city, county, state or federal roads and just assume that Madison County is responsible for them collectively.
"People just don't understand, and they are very quick to jump to conclusions," she said.
Chaney explained that any road with a number, or with "KY" (ex: KY 421) is a state maintained road, and any roadway with "US" or "I" preceding the numbers, is a federal roadway.
"Take for example, Jack's Creek," she said. "We know it as Jack's Creek, and think that it would be a city or county road because it's just on your way out of downtown. But Jack's Creek is KY-1156 making it a state road."
Chaney explained that the county maintains 500 miles of road, 200 of which are subdivision roads. Two examples of county roads are John Ballard Rd. and Gum Bottom Rd.
The county's Road Supervisor, Willie Willis, drives the county roadways assessing roads that are in need of repair and once they are identified, the county determines prioritization of maintenance through a multifaceted assessment including the difficulty of repair, the weather, volume of use of roadway and safety impact.
The repair process, according to Chaney, is dependent on the type of repair necessary and address issues like, potholes, culverts, paving, bridges, removing graffiti, replacing stolen or damaged road signs, each of which has a specific process.
The county is currently working to replace three bridges on Cedar Hill Drive, Cardinal Hill Drive and Arbuckle Road as a proactive measure to address aging infrastructure.
Chaney says that the county is working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) on a variety of projects in the SHIFT plan. Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT) was developed as a process by KTC in 2016 to better allocate state transportation funds.
"This is a critical way in which we advocate as locals to the state to get funding to improve roadways in Madison County," she said.
SHIFT is a data driven, objective approach to compare capital improvement projects and prioritize spending. The formula is made up from measurable data to assess the need for and benefits of projects in comparison. The formula is based on safety, asset management, congestion, economic growth and benefit and cost to score the project out of 100, in its need of importance.
Madison County is District 7, North Region and has a project ranked 10 for most important with a score of 82.7 (out of 100) and a price tag of $15 million for a "major widening" at US-25 from US 421 to Pumpkin Run.
The SHIFT plan outlines transportation priorities for the next six years until 2024 and includes an investment of $2.3 billion in funding to repair more than 1,000 bridges and 5,000 miles of pavement.
In the cities of Richmond and Berea, each entity routinely observe roadways and compiles priority listings throughout the year that require repairs or repaving. The budget varies on the funds allocated from the state, and what the Berea City Council or Richmond Board of Commissioners approve.
Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley said that in recent years, the city is having to tap into the general fund revenue to be able to contribute funds into the maintenance of the pavement.
"Road repairs are often paid for with the Municipal Road Aid from the state, but that amount is decreasing, and hasn't been able to keep up with the needs of the city," Fraley explained. "So we are having to use general funds on repair work that is traditionally paid for with state funds and we have to find a way to make up the difference."
Submit your question either online at richmondregister.com by clicking on the Ask It logo and filling out the form. Email submissions are also accepted by sending your questions with your name, city, zip code, email and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lastly, questions can be mailed in. Send your question with your name, city, zip, email and phone number to Richmond Register c/o Ask It Madison County, PO Box 99, Richmond, KY, 40475.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.