Residents express frustration over Nacogdoches County roads

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It takes Tod Slaton hours to finish his early morning paper route.

"You drive too slow you get stuck," Slaton said. "You get sunk in. If you drive too fast, you slide off the road and hit trees or in ditches."

Slaton travels roughly 14 Nacogdoches County roads, and says it's a bumpy, and often dangerous journey.

"I've crashed six cars," he said. "I've crashed into trees. I mean I did everything I can to keep this route and it's just frustrating."

Residents who live along Nacogdoches County roads are concerned.

"County Road 411, County Road 419, Country Road 425, I mean there are several," Slaton said.

Cheryl Dickey lives on County Road 392. She says cars and trucks drive way too fast down the already narrow, and bumpy road. She worries for her grandson's safety.

"The thing you have to do is don't go over 10 mph and then you know like I said, you meet someone they're hauling butt and you're trying to be careful and they're not," Dickey said.

John Makow voiced several concerns to the county commissioners court about County Road 349, where he lives. He says after many phone calls and letters, his road is now in the process of being repaired. Makow says deep ditches like this one continue to make the road unsafe.

"It's so narrow and you've got a, I'm estimating about 10 to 12 feet drop straight down," Makow said.

Weather is another element adding to hazardous road conditions.

"The water basically runs across the road, it washes off the road," Makow said. "It becomes impassible. We have a two acre pond down below and the pond looks like a cesspool because this road basically has wound up in my pond."

Road and bridge administrator for the county, Doyle Williams says he understands these concerns, and his staff is working hard to fix these roads.

"We don't have eyes everywhere and we try to get around to do that," Williams said.

With about 800 miles of county road, 40 percent are paved. The remaining are dirt roads.

"In the last year they've drilled a lot of wells in this area and with it being narrow and wet, it's created a lot of problems," Williams said.

It's a challenge with several oil rigs located throughout the county.

"These oil roads are not made for the heavy trucks and it creates pot holes and that kind of thing," Williams said.

According to Williams, the driving surface of a county road must be a minimum of 12 feet wide.  he has roughly 36 workers out daily working to keep these roads up. But natural causes create a perpetual cycle.

"Slick hills and that type of thing and drainage issues because the leaves fall and stop the ditches up," Williams said.

And on paved roads ...

"We're restricted to summer time for working on hard top surfaces because it's dry and it needs to be hot weather," Williams said.

Williams hopes one day, all county roads can have black top surfaces. For now, funding restricts this dream.

"The oil prices have gone up," Williams said.

"TxDOT allocates one million dollars per mile of road," Pct. 4 County Commissioner Tom Strickland said. "Well Doyle has approximately half a million in the course of a year to maintain almost 800 miles."

Strickland says hard-surfacing all county roads would mean a substantial tax increase.

"It's just a balancing act to try to hold these tax dollars down and yet provide the services for the folks in this county," Strickland said.

Right now the focus is simply maintaining the roads already in existence.

Residents living on county roads hope they'll see changes.

"It's ridiculous the amount of potholes that are around here," Trey Matchett said. Matchett lives on County Road 408. "I've seen a couple guys come out here every now and then and do a little patch work here and there but within two months it comes right back."

Williams says he's doing his best to maintain county roads.

"We all want the same goal," Williams said. "We all want to be able to travel up and down the road and not tear your vehicles up and that kind of thing."

It's a goal he says he'll continue to strive for, for the sake of the residents who live along these roads.

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