Thursday, May 10, 2018

Winston Supervisors Updated on County Roads/Bridges

County Engineer Jimmy Kemp delivered the following report to the Winston County Supervisors on Monday concerning the status of county roads, bridges and ongoing and upcoming projects across the area.

WINSTON COUNTY
ROAD AND BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION REPORT

AND NEEDED FUNDING
May 4, 2018

• 40+ miles of Winston County Roads on the State Aid and Non-State Aid routes are under contract to be patched, leveled, resealed, striped, and resigned at an estimated cost of $2.2+/- million as the SAP-80(10)S project plus some additional County funded work. Another added 28+ miles of striping have also been added to this contract to this point.

• Patching, asphaltic hot mix overlay, restripe and resigning at a cost of $230,000+/- was recently completed on Old Hwy 15 North.

• The Noxubee River Bridge replacement and paved roadway approaches project on the Pleasant Hill Road is practically completed at cost of $1.0+/- million.

• Dean Park asphalt hot mix overlay and parking lot striping was recently completed at a contract cost of $60,000 +/-.

• Numerous other smaller projects in each District using county funds are underway i.e. small bridge replacements, culvert replacements, road work, etc.

PROGRAMMED

A bridge replacement project across Fox Branch on Russell Road is designed and on the shelf at the Office of State Aid Road Construction (OSARC) awaiting funding thru the Federal Bridge Replacement (BR) program as project STP/BR-0080(33)B.

OSARC also recently authorized the Board of Supervisors to program box bridge project LSBP-80(14), Zion Ridge Road, to replace the deficient pipe serving a tributary of Tallahaga Creek.

Hopefully Winston County will receive enough funding to replace another deficient or inadequate drainage structure this year thru the Local System Bridge Program (LSBP) and other funding needed to make repairs to the Tallahaga Canal Bridge on Youngs Crossing Road and the Tallahaga Creek Bridge on the Highpoint-Weir Road.

Other FEMA/MEMA projects.
APPLICATIONS TO BE SUBMITTED

• Mississippi's 43+/- mile Noxubee Hills Scenic Byway (NHSB) runs along county roads from Hwy
15 east across four-lane Hwy 25 to four-lane Hwy 45 crossing the entire northern part of Winston County. The 28+/- mile section of the NHSB from 4-laned Hwy 25 east to 4-laned US Hwy 45 at Brooksville has now been paved. This leaves only 13+/- miles of the 43+/- mile NHSB unpaved. The NHSB serves both tourist and employees of the Federal Lands Management Agencies (FLMAs) ofthe Tombigbee National Forrest (TNF) and the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR), MSU's John W.

Starr Memorial Forest as well as area residents. Winston County's application to fund additional improvements to the section of NHSB west of Hwy 25 thru the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program was denied by the previous administration in Washington. However, at the suggestion of Senator Roger Wicker, the County anticipates submitting another application for improvement to sections of NHSB thru the USDOT's Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program which the current administration has established.

• Another Eastern Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) Project grant application is to be submitted thru the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 st Century Act" (MAP-21) and continued in the "Fixing America's Surface Transportation" (FAST) Act of 2015 to improve state and local transportation facilities that provide access to and through federal lands for visitor, recreationist and resource users. Since a 20% matching share is required for FLAP projects, FWS's Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR) as the involved Federal Land Management Agency (FLMA) is expected to provide the said matching funds thru the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP). This proposed FLAP/FLTP project funding request is for improving and paving county roads to serve as a needed truck and thru traffic bypass route around the high use areas of the NNWR. However, improvements to this route will also serve to provide better access to the public lands belonging to MSU's John W. Starr Memorial Forest.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

• Winston County maintains approximately 700 miles of local roads according to the Golden Triangle
Planning and Development District (GTPDD). State law allocates only 296.54 miles of the county-maintained roads in Winston County can be placed on the State Aid Road System (On-System) which was established by the Legislature in 1949 when the Office of State Aid Road Construction (OSARC) was created. OSARC indicates Winston County has currently designated 80 roads totaling 281.65 miles to be on the On-System.

State Aid (SA) designated funds can be expended only on the roads or routes on the OnSystem. Some of the On-System roads considered major routes within a county by FHWA can have Federal funds expended on them as well when such funds are allocated to counties. This leaves over 400 miles of locally maintained roads in Winston County classified as Off-System routes on which basically no SA or Federal funds are available for roadway improvements. However, OSARC does also administer the Local System Bridge Program (LSBP) which was established by the Legislature in the early 1990s primarily to replace deficient bridges on the counties Off-System roads. Federal Bridge Replacement (BR) funds are allocated to MDOT by FHWA based on the number of deficient bridges in the State when compared to the total number of said deficient bridges in the National Bridge Inventory taken each year. MDOT then passes some of the FHWA BR funds received by the State on to OSARC which in turn allocates same on to the counties basically on a first come first served basis.

• There are also 104 county-maintained bridges in Winston County according to the 2018 Bridge Inventory submitted to OSARC and on to FHWA. FHWA classifies a bridge as a structure or structures having a clear width of better than 20' at a specific location. Several years ago, the Winston County Board of Supervisors decided to concentrate on replacing deficient bridges on county roads. Since that time, the County has replaced several bridges each year. Only nine (9) bridges in Winston County are now posted with a load limit. School buses are only prohibited from crossing only two (2) bridges in the County. As previously stated, replacement for one of these two (2) bridges is on Russel Road and is currently designed and on the shelf at the Office of State Aid Road Construction (OSARC) awaiting funding as project LSBP-80(14). And the other one is located on the Highpoint-Weir Road awaiting funding for needed repairs. Repairs are also desperately needed on the Tallahaga Canal Bridge located on the Young's Crossing Road.

• Each month the OSARC receives $4,000,000 or an amount equal to 23.25% of the State's fuel tax
revenue, whichever is greater, along with $250,000 in sales tax revenue. Winston County then receives I . 13 % of these funds allocated to counties thru the State Aid (SA) program which amounts to approximately $43 ,OOO a month to the said County. Because of the shortfall in State revenues, SA funds allocated to counties were cut three times last year. Further, the MS Legislature has not allowed an increase in fuel tax since 1987.

• SA funds allocated to counties are basically capped at $4,000,000 per month while, reportedly, road and bridge construction cost have increased by better than 300% since 1987.

• Along with some additional bridge replacement and/or repairs, Winston County is in desperate need of funding to resurface and/or reseal additional paved roads.

• Federal bridge replacement (BR) funds are allocated to counties by OSARC on a first come first served basis based on need. OSARC allows each county to program only one Surface Transportation Project/Bridge Replacement (STP/BR) project at any given time. However, once a bridge project is advertised, another project may be programmed using STP/BR funds. Fortunately, over the years, Winston County has kept a Federal funded bridge project ready when STP/BR funds have become available for construction projects. LSBP funds are allocated to MS counties according to the formula established by Section 65-37-3 of the State Law subject to change contingent upon changes in deficient bridges, local system road miles, Legislative appropriations, and potential Legislative budget cuts.

• The MS Legislature did provide $50,000,000 in funding for the LSBP program during the last session. Reportedly the Legislature has also authorized the Governor to issue bonds for another $25,000,000 for emergency bridge repairs and bridge replacement projects. However, given the need, the fact that MS has 82 counties, and the average cost to replace a county bridge, this funding will not go very far.

• Bottom line, Winston County can expect county road and bridge projects funded thru the SA program and, for that matter with local funds, to basically come to a halt for this fouryear term once the projects currently under contract and/or programmed are completed unless the Legislature comes up with a better funding program.