The combination of heavy precipitation and cold temperatures in recent days have wreaked havoc on area roads, Public Works Director Joe Matthews said.
“Reparing potholes is something that we work on year-round,” Matthews said. “What we do holds up good except this time of year.”
Matthews said pieces of roadways are deteriorating after rainwater froze inside cracks in the road.
“The ice expands and makes the cracks larger and loosens those parts of the road,” Matthews said. “When vehicles drive over those sections of the road the next day, it beats loose those chunks.”
City workers are using a cold mix to fill potholes, but Matthews said the cold, wet weather doesn’t allow the patches to seal properly.
“To fix pot holes in January in Alabama is almost a waste of time,” Matthews said. “We can do our best to fix the problems but there is no way that it can adhere. We are doing the best we can to keep something in the holes, but from now until March it is going to be a continual process.”
Mayor Sonny Posey and each member of the Jasper City Council have reported getting numerous phone calls from people concerning major potholes across the city.
“We know it is a serious problem, and we are doing everything we can right now to work on the problem,” Posey said. “We are also working on some ways to substantially improve our roads in the future.”
Matthews said roads in the city are in rough condition because there has not been a full resurfacing project in the last 15 to 20 years due to a lack of funds.
He explained the city receives $150,000 per year that is designated specifically for paving roads.
“With that amount of money, we can pave between 1.3 and 1.6 miles,” he said. “There are 225 miles of roads in Jasper, so only using that amount of money, it would take 141 years to resurface all the roads in the city.”
The recent 1 percent sales tax increase could provide some funds for paving projects, Matthews said. City officials have said there could be around $1.5 million available for paving after the estimated cost for a new high school. Matthews said that amount of money would pay to pave 16 to 18 miles per year.
“If the council allows that money to go to infrastructure, we could do a reasonable amount of the roads that really need paving in the next four years or so,” Matthews said.
Posey and Matthews are hoping the city will be able to access federal funds through a program administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program will give away $1 billion over the next three years to improve roads across the state.
“For whatever money we might receive, the city will have to pay a 20 percent match,” Matthews said. “That match would not be possible without the sales tax increase, and if we can receive a large amount through ATRIP, it could be a considerable boost to improving the condition of our roads.”
Posey said crews will continue to work on the pothole problem across the city while officials also look for ways to improve roads in the city for years to come.
“We’re working hard, and we want residents to know that we take this issue seriously,” Posey said.