Columbia County Roads and Bridges department has earmarked 20 dirt roads to be paved this year.
Those roads are Freeman Harris, Kiokee, Carver, Parham, Moontown, Moonmist, Moontown East, Marshall, Story, Old Winfield, Miles, Kuhn Circle, Cottonwood, Stage Antler, Old Thompson, Deercrest, King Taylor, Bumpas, G.R. Tucker and North Old Belair roads.
"Some of these roads on the list may not actually get asphalt on them," said Construction and Maintenance Director Kevin Lear.
"They'll be cleared and graded, and utilities will be moved. Most of them will have asphalt on them, but some of them may be actually paved the first part of next year," Lear said.
Last year, Road and Bridges oversaw the paving of 14 dirt roads and another 12 were put into contract to be paved.
Lear said there are between 90 to 100 dirt roads in the county, and there are about 60 dirt roads his department is working on.
Lear estimates the costs at $300,000 to pave one mile of road. The majority of the funds to pave the roads comes from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
"What we're trying to do as a priority is get dirt roads paved that are closer to the urban areas so we don't have to take our heavy equipment and stuff into the more populated areas of the county," said Lear.
"Some of the other priorities that we have are roads that are further out at the more perimeter parts of the county so that we don't have so much distance to travel every day to maintain those dirt roads," he said.
The majority of the dirt roads left to be paved in the county belong in Commissioner Mark Devoti's District 4.
"It's a big priority for me, because there are so many of them in my district," said Devoti.
"A lot of folks are really adamant about getting their dirt road paved. They don't understand why it takes so long to pave a dirt road, but it's a very long process," said Devoti.
Lear said the paving process can take a long time because of strict environmental requirements to paving, acquiring right of ways, moving utilities and much more.
Despite the hindrances, Lear said dirt road paving is crucial to many county officials and citizens.
"Dirt road paving is a high priority for the county, because we know the impact it has on the community," said Lear. "We know that they, as a community, wants it to be a high priority."
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