SPECIAL REPORT: We take you down the worst roads in Sabine County

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

SABINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE)- Sabine County residents are no strangers to rain, and lots of it.

"The roads are real muddy with lots of bad road. I mean it's a lot of downhill. When we get a lot of rain it washes out a lot of creek," said Telephone Road Resident Fred Cavender.

Overflowing creeks, dirt roads, and bad weather can lead to dangerous situations. Resident Christie Mccoure who also lives on Telephone Road says she lost her home to a major flood in March of 2008.

"It flooded so bad that it picked up our house and moved it 100 foot," said Mccoure.

The flood took a toll on several parts of northern Sabine County.

"This part of the road was flooded two to three feet above the ground. We couldn't drive down it. There was actually a boat squad that came down here to help some people whose house moved," said Chambers Road Resident Adam Nixon.

"Most of that flood occurred from highway 21 north. It washed out bridges, coverts, and washed places in the road," said County Judge Charles Watson.

"The roads have always been bad but I think they've gotten a lot worse since the flood," said Mccoure who has lived in her new home for a year now. She says a new beginning does not ease her concerns about these roads. "I'm worried about my girls getting out in the road and getting run over because people do drive through here way too fast."

Now, two years after the flood, the county is still waiting on a 350,000 dollar grant that will help repair some of the damage done by the flooding.

"They've told us for two years that it's ours. So now, they're telling us within maybe 30 days that we'll get that 350,000 dollars" said Watson.

Once the Texas Department of Rural Affairs gives the county this grant money, a majority of it will go to precinct four, where there is extensive flooding damage.

"We'll haul in rock, and put in probably some different coverts," explained Watson, who says money like this doesn't come easy. "We never know for sure when we're going to get it or how much were going to get, and how many strings are going to be attached."

So the age old problem remains. With hundreds of miles of road to maintain, there is not enough money to go around.

"We're struggling too, every day to make ends meet said," Watson.

"My budget is 35,000 and that includes payroll, maintenance, insurance, if we buy equipment it comes out of that," said Precinct One Commissioner Keith Clark.

The county says they don't distribute any tax dollars to the Road and Bridge Department, which does receive some money from license plate registration fees. A majority of their money comes from the US Forest Service.

"We have a four year plan. It's reduced each year. This year it was reduced 10 percent. As a matter of fact, we just got it. We got, I believe 688,000 dollars," said Watson, who says this funding is quickly dwindling. "Actually in the next three years, that funding will end because it will be reduced each year until it ends unless we have some miracle."

Out of US Forest Funds, Road and Bridge only get's half. The other half is split by the school districts. The half allotted to roads and bridge must then be split by the four precincts, and not all get the same depending on road mileage. Judge Watson says the county sometimes get's mineral money, but it just depends on the year. "We hope the drilling will pick up and we'll have access to some more dollars."

County commissioners are also looking for ways to repair bad roads.

"Our plans are to try and get a better material, which would help," said Clark.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Clark doesn't see this happening anytime soon. "We'd really need more funding because it's pretty expensive to do that."

Although funding is limited, the county hopes residents understand they are trying to fix the roads. "Most of them really realize that we're doing the best we can do," said Watson.

With no debt, Sabine County is doing its best to keep it that way. The biggest obstacle remains finding more funding, before it runs dry.

The county says getting better materials for the roads, such as limestone, would also require cooperation from nearby railroad companies to help haul it.  As far as paving the roads entirely, the county doesn't see this happening anytime soon.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.