Longtime dirt roads resurfaced

Chris Berendt Staff Writer

December 9, 2013

Several unpaved roads in the county have now been resurfaced, eliminating even more mileage from Sampson’s unpaved total, a figure — used as part of a state allocation — that has dropped gradually in recent years.

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Secondary Roads program is submitted each year by the local DOT district, which provides local officials constant updates on the status of projects for unpaved and paved roads on that annual list. Keith Eason, maintenance engineer for DOT, said work on several dirt roads included in past iterations of the report is now complete.

“The four unpaved roads that were on the county construction list to be completed last year are complete,” said Eason. “The roads have been paved for a month or so now. The final seeding has been done and those roads have been signed off on. Those are Ballance Road, Jasper Road, Darden Road and Fleet Naylor Road.”

According to DOT officials, approximately half a mile of Fleet Naylor Road, from State Road (SR) 1636 to the dead end, was resurfaced at a cost of $85,000. Darden Road, from U.S. 13 to the dead end, also about a half mile, was done at a cost of $120,000. And paving Jasper Road, from U.S. 701 to SR 1141, about 0.6 miles, was estimated at $125,000.

Along with Ballance, the unpaved road improvements, encompassed grade, drain, base and pave work for those four roads without pavement. Work on those roads was made possible with the assistance from DOT Secondary Road Construction funding. Sampson received $1.75 million for the 2012-13 program. The funds have decreased over the years as dirt roads get asphalt.

N.C. General Statute mandates that the DOT, before July 1 every year, conduct a study of all state-maintained unpaved roads in order to determine the mileage for each county and the total across the state, with allocation of secondary roads funding based upon the proportion of unpaved roads as compared to the miles statewide. Each county’s allocation is determined by dividing the total allocation by the statewide mileage times the number of miles in each county.

Secondary roads construction allocations are based upon the amount of revenue generated by the gasoline tax.

Based on an unpaved mileage of approximately 14 miles in Sampson, compared to unpaved miles statewide, an allocation of $1.75 million was approved for 2012-13.

That allocation has decreased incrementally in the past couple years as unpaved roads received asphalt, including Jimmy, Eura Tart, Cpt. Westbrook, Ballpark and Old Cotton Gin roads. The allocation has come down from figures the past two fiscal years of $2.15 million based on 18 miles of unpaved roads for 2010-11 and $1,776,940 based on 16 unpaved miles for 2011-12.

Priority lists for the program were updated in 2009, and are based on a paving priority rating system that lists both rural roads and one for residential/subdivision roads. A separate listing of roads for each county also shows those that have been previously skipped over for paving because the right of way was not available. While those roads for which right of way is not currently available are not listed on either priority list, they can be reinstated to the lists as the right of way becomes available.

“Also on that (priority) list was Keith Road,” said Eason, who cited delays in that particular unpaved road being resurfaced. “There are some utility issues going on, and those are being worked on, and we hope to start construction on that in the spring.”

For 2012-13 there was $150,000 allocated for unpaved road improvements and $1,574,000 for paved road improvements, with the remaining $20,000 for volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, road additions and contingencies.

Keith Road was tapped for $50,000 in funding as part of the unpaved improvements to pave 0.41 miles from N.C. 24 to the dead end, just a portion of the $165,000 needed.

The DOT submits its proposals to the Board of Commissioners each year regarding the expenditure of estimated secondary road construction funds for the county through June of the next year. “In the event right of way for any of the proposals is not available or environmental permits cannot be obtained,” said Eason, “it is our plan to proceed with the next priority in line until right of way is acquired and funds allocated are expended.”

Sampson previously had 18 miles of unpaved roads, which decreased to 16 miles with the paving of Jimmy Road, Eura Tart Road, Johnny Road and Old Cotton Gin Road. Now, with Ballance, Fleet Naylor, Jasper and Darden roads paved, that number officially drops to around 14 miles.

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at