LOW WATER IMPACT: River levels, weather delay county paving project

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Although the Mississippi River has risen from the near-record lows experienced in 2022, Warren County is in the middle of solving a significant problem it created — the delay of its 2022 DBST program.

The original schedule for the Warren County Paving Plan was to complete eight miles of overlay and spot paving work on county roads and then to use double-bituminous surface treatment (DBST) to pave 22 miles of unpaved county roads by the end of 2022.

After a delay in July when no bids for the project were submitted, the Board of Supervisors ultimately awarded the bid to T.L. Wallace in August 2022 to complete the project at a cost of $2,021,398.15. But an inability to transport materials due to river levels and weather limitations of DBST resulted in the cancellation of the 2022 project by the Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 17 meeting.

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Those 22 miles of unpaved roads — plus a portion of Boy Scout Road — are expected to be approved by the Supervisors during its Jan. 30 meeting, with a couple of changes.

DBST on Ball Ground Road was pushed to 2024 due to the number of projects in the vicinity. Even with that change, the proposed total mileage of the 2023 project is 22.4 miles.

“You just can’t apply DBST surface to roads during cold weather,” County Engineer Keith O’Keefe said. “So we just decided to roll all those roads up into the 2023 DBST program.”

Construction of a DBST roadway should not be carried out during wet or cold weather. Air temperatures should be at least 50 degrees in the shade and rising in order to achieve optimal results.

O’Keefe stated at the Jan. 17 meeting there were no costs incurred toward the 2022 project, aside from the preparation of contract documents. The information will be used for the 2023 project.

With the addition of approximately two miles of Boy Scout Road to the list of other unpaved roads in the DBST program, the project’s price tag will increase by approximately $800,000, O’Keefe said. The estimated total cost of the project will be close to $4 million, according to project documents.

O’Keefe said last August that DBST differs from traditional asphalt surfaces in that it’s intended for use on low-volume, unpaved roads. It’s also less expensive than using asphalt to pave an unpaved road.

The other benefit of DBST that appeals to the county is its low maintenance cost, District 1 Supervisor Edward Herring said.

“I’m super excited for a couple reasons. One, because it gets the gravel roads out of the daily workload,” Herring said. “When you look at the amount of money we spend on road graders, two years of not grading the roads would pay for the (DBST) project.

“For every 10 miles we pave, I can reduce the county’s road grader force by one grader,” he added. “In four years, we’re down to one road grader that’s owned, not leased. That’s a quarter of a million dollars that can be thrown at another project in the county.”

DBST’s main function is to provide an all-weather, skid-resistant wearing surface that produces a water-resistant layer. Herring explained that, over the course of several years, having unpaved roads covered with DBST will produce substantial savings for the county.

“I am truly excited to see us finally able to move forward with this robust DBST project,” Herring said. “You know slow rolling government drives me crazy, but the delays will be well worth it and the residents on these roads will have a much better drive and experience as we work to minimize gravel roads across the county.”

O’Keefe echoed Herring’s sentiments. He said that, should the project be carried out this year as planned, it will benefit not only residents traveling on the roads but local taxpayers as a whole.

“I think the important thing is that the Board of Supervisors wants to work toward minimizing maintenance on these unpaved roads throughout the county,” O’Keefe said. “They’ve got a systematic approach to doing that by applying DBST surfaces. Over time, the goal would be to eliminate as many of these unpaved roads as possible which will cut down on maintenance costs.”

Roads in the proposed 2023 DBST Program include:

  • Birdsong Road from Freetown Road to Youngton Road
  • Bowayne Road at Gibson Road Circle
  • Boy Scout Road to Burnt House Road
  • Campbell Swamp Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Dogwood Lake Road from Tiffintown Road to Dogwood Lake Drive
  • Duncan Road at Bovina Cutoff Road
  • Dunigan Road at Culkin Road
  • Fox Road at Tucker Road
  • Freetown Road at Culkin Road
  • Friar Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Gibson Road Circle
  • Gowall Road at Villanova Road
  • Heather Drive at Heather Place
  • Heather Place at Freetown Road
  • Heather Road at Heather Place
  • Hebron Road at Heather Place
  • Hoxie Road at Gibson Road
  • John Russell Drive at Jeff Davis Road
  • Jones Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Lowery Road at Lee Road
  • Mitchell Lane at Fisher Ferry Road
  • Monk Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Old Pettway Road from Birdsong Road to Youngton Road
  • Opperman Road at Redwood Road
  • Rancho Road at Highway 80
  • Rebecca Evans Road at Highway 80
  • Reed Wilson Road at Riley Road
  • Riley Road
  • Ring Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Ross Road at Dudley Road
  • Rule Road at Jeff Davis Road
  • Sally Willis Road at Union Avenue
  • Simmons Road from Old Highway 27 to Linden Tree Drive
  • Tilton Ranch Road at Highway 27
  • Union Avenue at Sherman Avenue
  • Villanova Road at Oak Ridge Road
  • Youngton Road from Freetown Road to the Yazoo County Line (2 miles)

This list is not finalized and is subject to change by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.