JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – Several roads in Jackson County are damaged from the flooding that drenched north Alabama recently, but the damage isn’t the only problem: Money is another.
Shaina Arnold lives on County Road 17, and that address now comes with a problem.
“It looks like the road’s falling in or going to fall off the side of the mountain,” Arnold explained, “You can hear it cracking and popping as you’re standing out here if you listen long enough.”
Deep cracks and caved-in areas mar a stretch of the thoroughfare. It’s only gotten worse over the last few weeks.
County Road 17 is one of the two worst damaged roads. It’s a concern for Arnold and her neighbors, and also for the Jackson County Commission.
“That project, County Road 17, is estimated at 2.6 million dollars,” said Chairman Tim Guffey.
“We’re still at a point where we don’t have the money to fix County Road 17 or any of the other roads that are damaged. We’re only paving about eight miles per year, that’s all the funds we have to pave with, and we have 1,163 miles of road in Jackson County,” Guffey added
Jackson County doesn’t get local sales tax. The funding that it was getting from the Tennessee Valley Authority is significantly decreasing each year. Over the last six years, Guffey said the county has cut every extra expenditure it can.
“Until we can get the legislators to come up with a new revenue source we’re stuck,” Guffey said. “We have to stretch the dollars we have and we’re stretched as thin as we can stretch right now.”
Guffey added the reality is, even if the funding was in place, a fix like what County Road 17 requires could take two years. Likely, the county will have to borrow, or get state or federal funding to fix all of the damaged roads. That could prolong the process even more.
“It’s very inconvenient for families and people that are having to go to work or school or try to go to visit,” Arnold said, “Our family tries to come to visit and they have to drive all the way around the world just to get to us now.”
“We would love to get in there and fix every single one of these problems today. We’d love to pave 100 miles of roads per year,” Guffey said.
County officials are waiting on a contractor to come back with a final estimation on the repairs, which could be lower than initially thought. That estimation should come back within the next few weeks.