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As Forsyth adds roads, maintenance needs constant

FORSYTH COUNTY — The Forsyth County commission recently voted to apply for a local maintenance improvement grant from Georgia for an amount not to exceed about $1.6 million, with a required local match of $467,078.

The grant would help resurface, stripe, patch and build shoulders for more than 25 miles of road across the county.

To new and longtime residents alike, news that more roadwork is likely to occur in Forsyth during 2015 was not surprising. And if it seems as if the county is always working on the roads, well, that’s because it is.

Forsyth’s engineering director was quick to confirm that some form of road maintenance is being done at nearly all times year round.

“We do have probably close to 1,100 miles of paved roads in the county that are county maintained,” John Cunard said. “There are a lot of roads in the county that are not county maintained, but the majority are county maintained.”

“We’ve still probably got close to about 30 miles of gravel roads. There are state routes in the county that are maintained by the [state Department of Transportation], and we have almost 104 miles of [those].”

In addition, the number of local roads rises every year due to new subdivisions.

“Every time you add a new subdivision, we’re adding new streets when they’re public streets and deeded to the county and added to our inventory,” Cunard said.

To help decide which roads will be worked on, the county consults its extensive road database.

“Within that database we keep up with road information, such as when those roads were initially paved and based upon when they were paved we have a general idea of what kind of pavement we have there,” Cunard said.

Even with the new database, there is still some subjectivity to when roads are paved and can hinge on factors such as weather and use.

“Pavement life varies depending on the type of pavement, the type of the road, and the loading that road caries over its life.” Cunard said.

“It’s not something that you can just plug into a formula and say, ‘Yeah, you’re going to need to resurface this road in a certain amount of time’ because a lot of factors play into that.”

Repaving also comes down to resources and funding.

“Subdivisions a lot of times [are] all of the same age, but some may be in worse conditions than others,” Cunard said. “So at times your determination on what is done within those areas is somewhat subjective, and also it’s dependent on the availability of funding for that calendar year.”

Cunard said he occasionally receives comments that a certain road doesn’t need to be repaved, but said that even roads that pass the eye test aren’t always done.

“At times we’ve had people complain, and say, ‘Why are you resurfacing this road,’” Cunard said. “It turns out that we find out what road they’re talking about, and we’re not really resurfacing the road, because a lot of times, especially over the last few, we’re putting on the last layer of asphalt.”