Mineral rites: County roads mostly funded for '10
When Ray Hansen retired last year as Carbon County Roads Supervisor, the Carbon County Recreation & Transportation Special District appointed Brad McCourt.
Being new on the job, McCourt enthusiastically sought out problem areas and saw the need for many improvements on local thoroughfares.
"Some of these projects came up short in the general fund (based on 2010 costs instead of the original 2009 prices), as far as moneywas concerned," said County Commissioner Bill Krompel. "But by applying through the Mineral Lease District, we were able to secure about $850,000 out of the estimated $888,000 the projects are estimated to cost."
These monies should allow the district to replace three pedestrian bridges, do pavement preparation, chip and fill some country roads (not including complete work on Cottonwood and Nine Mile Canyon roads) and make other improvements.
"It took us a few months to get this, but it seems to have really worked out well," Krompel added. He also said that this - comebined with money from the general fund - would give the CCR&TSSD about $1.3 million to help complete these projects.
There are over 550 miles of thoroughfares that need county care. Most of these are in unincorporated Carbon County.
The maintenance of Cottonwood and Nine-Mile roads is a different animal altogether, however. Nine-Mile Road, for example, was partially paved in the 1970s, and that work holds up well to this day.
Recently, though, upper parts of the lane were treated with crushed gravel and dust suppressent.
A switch to the higher-priced environmental-friendly suppressant (as per the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM) will cost about $7,000-$14,000 per mile to apply.
"We're talking significant expenditure (approximately $500,000-$600,000)," Krompel said. "Just taking care of those roads would completely exhaust our road maintanence budget for the other 500-plus miles we are responsible for."
There is a silver lining, of course. If the Bill Barrett Corporation is granted permission to develop natural gas exploration there, another $20 million may come into the economy.
"That would mean we could fund these road projects with no problem," Krompel added.
A recent effort by an organization called the Nine-Mile Road Coalition had plans for an alternate route turned down by various agencies because there was evidently no need to build a new thoroughfare when one already exists.