Gravel Project To Address Some Of County’s Worst Dirt Roads

Some of Dillon County’s worst dirt roads will soon have gravel placed on them through a partnership between the County Transportation Committee (CTC) and Dillon County. This will allow citizens greater and easier access to their homes and businesses, especially during rainy times. School buses, emergency vehicles, and postal workers will also have better access due to the improved road conditions.
The CTC is pursuing a greater effort to make the most of the money that they are allotted, according to Earl Gleason, chairman of the Dillon County CTC. In the spring of 2019, Gleason said a group of the Dillon Committee members met with Marion County officials, who had already been placing rock on their roads for years. They wanted to see “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of the operation.
The Dillon CTC designated $100,000 for the first fiscal year of the rocking program. Gleason said they are experimenting to find the best practices as this is a learning experience. The CTC is choosing the roads, which will help keep the politics out of the process, Gleason said. It costs about $20,000 to rock a mile of road compared to $750,000 to pave the road. With 400+ miles of dirt roads in Dillon County, many more roads can be upgraded through the rocking program than paving. The designated $100,000 will cover five miles of road.
For the second fiscal year starting July 1, 2020, the CTC has decided to put $250,000 aside for graveling the roads. Gleason said this shows the CTC’s commitment to the project.
Gleason feels the gravel project is a “gamechanger” and will have a greater impact on more citizens than paving just a small amount of road.
Gleason asks the public to be patient. There are more than 400 miles of dirt roads in the county and every road cannot be first. The worst roads in high traffic areas are being addressed first, and roads with few or no residents will likely not be done in the immediate future. Roads must be in the county system to be considered or must have a history of having been maintained by the county. Citizens can also submit petitions to the Dillon County Council Office to have their roads considered.
Gleason said the Committee received written guidance from the S.C. Department of Transportation C-Program Administrator, confirming this program is appropriate for roads that Dillon County has been maintaining.
One only has to “do the math” to see this is the best deal for the citizens with the most impact when one considers $20,000 for a mile of gravel versus $750,000 for a mile of paved road.
Gleason said another cost savings has been the county hauling and spreading of the rock. Through the use of county employees and equipment, the available funds can be used to cover more roads.
County Administrator Tony Clyburn said the county is excited to participate in this program and hopes that it will help many people in all areas from all walks of life. He said by letting the CTC choose the roads through a designated process, instead of politics entering the picture, those with the greatest need will be served first.
Gleason said the CTC is also excited and looking forward to putting together a 10-year program going forward. The Committee recently implemented other program changes including the CTC becoming a self-administering county. This change eliminated the state management fee saving the county approximately $40,000 annually. This change also allows the county to have “real-time” money to pay for projects in a timely manner rather than having to seek reimbursement from the state at the completion of work, Gleason said.