There’s a new approach to paving county’s dirt roads

in Voices by

By the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association 

The 2016-17 Beaufort County Transportation Plan includes a change in the method used to determine which county dirt roads are paved.  

In the past, the Beaufort County Transportation Committee (CTC) selection of which roads are to be paved was based on a rather sophisticated formula that placed emphasis on the amount of use of the road and to determine the need for its paving.  

With this formula many roads on Lady’s Island have been paved since the inception of the CTC program in 1994 was the recipient of a significant amount of paving of its dirt roads.  

However, obtaining the necessary right of way often posed a problem and on numerous occasions even required legal action against the property owner in order for Beaufort County to secure the right to pave the road. 

Today, Lady’s Island has 12 of the 92 miles of the remaining unpaved county dirt roads in the Beaufort County system.  

For these dirt roads the new system for selection of which county roads are to be paved is set forth in the County Transportation Plan which states as follows:

1. A recognized representative of the requesting dirt road residents wishing to have their road paved shall submit a road  improvements request document as provided by the County Engineer’s office with all supporting documents provided by property owners, stating that individual property owners adjacent to the subject roadway will provide signatures of willingness to assist in securing the necessary right of ways to permit the construction of a roadway based upon the design standards of Beaufort county.

2. Such a neighborhood-based request should be submitted during the first calendar quarter of each calendar year and the County Engineer will present their technical recommendations to the CTC during the second calendar quarter of each year of all dirt roads requested to be improved upon request submitted.  The CTC or their agent shall notify the neighborhood representative of the findings during the third calendar quarter of the recommendations based upon the discussions of the CTC.

3. Approved projects shall be programmed based upon the annual master plan of the County Engineer as presented to the CTC based on the work program and funding for such construction projects.

It is recognized that the past system of prioritizing roads for paving (based on a point system for such things as the number of houses, churches, businesses and cost to maintain) did require the county to assume the added burden of taking the lead in acquiring the necessary right of way.  

However, the new system would appear to rely on the initiative of the individual property owners residing beside a dirt road to not only initiate the request for paving, but also obtain verification that each property owner along the roadway will grant the necessary right of way. 

As a result of the growing costs and time associated with the legal actions often necessary to secure right of way, we seem to have taken the selection of which county roads to pave from an objective rating system based on need and merit, to a “do it yourself” system based on individual property owner’s initiative and neighborhoods desire to have their road paved.  

Admittedly, this makes the process of acquiring right of way much easier, but may not result in those roads with the most need for paving being selected.  

Perhaps we have missed something in regard to this subject, but when viewed from a citizen’s perspective it does appear this way.