Those meeting with Auburn Trustees Monday had an inside look at just how the township road department maintains and cares for its roads and what its plans are for the next five years.
Auburn Road Superintendent Emerick Gordon and Trustee John Eberly presented the five-year plan as they do as a yearly tradition. It is about “Keeping good roads good,” Mr. Eberly said of the township’s core philosophy.
Mr. Gordon said they have been compiling data for 13 years and they base the road plan on that data. In addition to the roads, the department maintains berms, the ditches for proper drainage and road surface integrity. “We do preventive maintenance and we do residential ditch requests, but we always have to prioritize the projects,” he added.
The detailed five-year road plan is on the township website, and anyone who has an issue can call the road department, “and we will take a look at it,” Mr. Eberly said.
Mr. Eberly noted people call the road department if there is a bad situation in front of their homes. “They are our eyes and ears. It’s a good thing because we can’t be everywhere all the time. If you notice something, call the road department and we’ll check it out.” The township has 54 miles of road to maintain with 79 cul-de-sacs.
Four small road levies support the department’s road plans. Currently, the department spends $900,000 to $1 million per year to resurface roads, to do crack sealing and other maintenance as well, Mr. Gordon said.
Ascot Lane was an expensive project and took 75 percent of the budget for 1 ½ miles three years ago, Mr. Eberly said.
It was a 10-year-old road and it began failing after five years, according to Mr. Gordon. “We did a partial reconstruction. It was 75 percent of our paving budget in 2016,” he said.
The average life cycle of an asphalt road in a subdivision is 15 years and 12 years for through roads, according to Mr. Gordon. Once a year, they critique all the roads in the township.
Mr. Eberly recalled how the township started chip-sealing gravel roads in the township several years ago. “When I started as trustee, we had 34 miles of gravel road, and now every road has hard surface. One is chip seal and the other is asphalt.
Chip seal is cheaper to put down but more expensive to maintain than asphalt, which is good for about 14 years, he said. So the department, since 2011, has been working on getting more roads into asphalt, he said, making an effort to get those numbers up.
The road department inspects the cross culverts and driveway culverts, and Mr. Gordon and Mr. Eberly meet annually with the Geauga County Engineer to review plans for upgrades.
“We are always working on drainage, because bad drainage kills roads,” Mr. Eberly noted. And the county engineer knows about the roads and drainage in the county. “We get lots of help from the county engineer. They are professional engineers and they are our strategic partners. We couldn’t do it without them,” Mr. Eberly said.
Mr. Gordon noted they met with the county engineer’s department three weeks ago “with our five-year road plan to be sure we are getting the most bang for our buck.”
“They are part of our team,” Mr. Eberly said of the county engineer’s department. He noted that the county engineer asks the communities in the county for five-year plans. “We’re probably the only one of the townships that has this.”
The Auburn department resurfaces 4 miles of roads every year, and if they didn’t they would fall behind, and it would be a long process to catch up, Mr. Eberly noted.
Mr. Gordon said the department puts out bids for crack sealing, an important process to keep water out of the road bed through cracks in the road, which is a normal occurrence. They allocate $50,000 a year on the process to protect the integrity of the road surface.
“We don’t find massive pot holes in the roads and don’t spend so much on repairing roads,”
Mr. Eberly said as a result of the crack sealing.
They are looking at a chip-seal conversion to asphalt for Bartholomew Road, between Ravenna and Auburn roads, and for Snow Road next year. Bartholomew Road is getting more traffic including trucks.
Monday, they also covered other roads in the township as well including a reconstruction project on Stafford Road. The township is hoping to receive $300,000 in state funding for the project on Stafford, which has areas that are too narrow, according to county standards, Mr. Eberly said. “We will widen it to get proper ditches.”
Some homes were built from 4 feet to 6 feet from the road right of way and they hope to move the road away from them, he said. There will be a fair amount of trees to be removed, and it will be a safer road when the work is completed, he added. They have received more letters about fixing Stafford than anything else. “We’re looking at a $1 million project.” It is a two-year process starting this year.
They then went through the plans for 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024.
In referring to caring for the roads during the winter, Mr. Eberly said they try to be smart about putting salt down. “We don’t want the hard pack to bond on the road.” After a snow event, the township strives to have clear roads within one day of the event. It takes each plow driver about three hours to run a route in a heavy snow.
Mr. Eberly concluded that the township road department uses every bit of the money from the road levies very carefully. Residents appreciate how the township uses their money, and they support the township road program, he said.