Considering that government road projects often costs millions of dollars, the $173,000 price tag for repairing Sanders Road is a relatively modest sum.
But 10 months after heavy rains caused the dam at Lake Alice to fail, work has yet to begin on repairing and reopening the road, despite the fact both the city and county governments have offered to split the cost of doing so.
The real issue isn’t so much the repair cost, but rather potential legal liability and entanglement in any future litigation over damage caused by the dam’s failure.
The county has offered to pay half the cost of repairs, if the city will release it from any liability in the dam collapse. The city has made an identical offer to the county. Meanwhile, the road has remained closed far longer than it should have.
If the breach of the dam ends up in litigation at some point, odds are the process will be complicated and complex. That being the case, we wonder if either of the governing agencies has the authority to free the other from any potential liability, or if that might not be a question the courts have to resolve.
After weeks of offers and counteroffers, the county commission on March 6 voted to ask the city if it would participate in an independent mediation process to resolve the conflict over repairing the road. The city has not yet taken action on the request.
The impasse over repairing Sanders Road comes at a time when the working relationship between the city and county is much improved over previous years, when the two entities constantly seemed to be bickering over one issue or another. It will be unfortunate if an inability to reach a resolution on the road repairs snowballs into increased animosity between the governing bodies.
In truth, those who would use Sanders Road on a daily basis really don’t care who pays for the repairs, they just want to see the road open again to improve the flow of traffic around a busy area.
If mediation is the best path to a resolution, then by all means, let’s move in that direction. If not, and if the two sides can’t reach an equitable solution, then one or the other needs to step forward and get the work done.