MOUNT VERNON — Bridges, culverts and now roads. Maintaining roads is another key element in the job of Knox County Engineer Jim Henry, whose staff annually maintains 411 lane miles of road. With a population of 53,903, Knox County incorporates 527 square miles and has an average daily vehicle miles traveled equal to 711,000. This amounts to endless work of resurfacing, berming, striping, chip and seal, and of course in the wintertime plowing snow, all for the purpose of providing safe roads for Knox County’s citizens.
“Every year, we do about $850,000 to $1 million in resurfacing,” said Henry. Each year will depend on material costs. “We also assist with township projects if requested to piggyback. Reasons are for volume of work. Quantity gives a better price. It’s more competitive.”
Total resurfacing in 2010 amounted to 35 continuous miles. And timing can be key in relation to other road projects. “We try to replace culverts on roads when we know they will be resurfaced soon,” said Henry.
Motor vehicle gas tax pays for a large portion of yearly expenses. Expenditures in 2010 for road accounts amounted to $3,693,472, of which $1,086,427 was in labor. A total of $902,173 was spent on projects, $564,480 in materials and $359,713 in vehicle repairs/fuel. On top of the many contract paving projects, a total of 1,774 tons of patching material was placed on various county roads, adding up to a cost of $1,039,015.
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In addition to the expected jobs of resurfacing and patching, various other jobs keep county crews continuously busy on our roads.
“We’re going to be participating in a federal safety program of pavement striping,” said Henry. “We will do 150 miles this year.” Other safety projects planned are bank removals and intersection realignment.
The past couple of years have brought much work for county crews in plowing and salting.