As the county grows, so do the needs grow. But although there may be more roads in Faulkner County, there are not actually more county roads. And that is causing some residents to become upset with their living situations.
Maintaining roads in the county falls under two levels: those roads that are brought into the county infrastructure and those that aren’t but still are used as mail and bus routes. And it looks like more roads that are built for subdivisions and new construction will not be brought into the county system, at least not in the foreseeable future.
According to Glenn Willhite, who oversees county road maintenance, there are approximately 352 miles of road in Faulkner County that are maintained to federal standards but that are not county-owned. Some roads are just dirt, Willhite said, with trees bumping up to the edge. Some have major drainage problems. About 100 miles are used as mail routes and must be maintained up to a point, but it is not as high of a standard as county-owned roads.
Several developers complained to the Faulkner County Road Committee recently about the inability of being able to have their roads brought into the county system. But the problem there is that each new mile that is brought into the county costs about $10,000 a year in maintenance, according to Wilhite. Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin said the problem persists and will not get any easier.
“This problem is intense and will be around as long as I am county judge and whoever is county judge after me,” Scroggin said. “We don’t want to have the problems that you see up in Michigan and Minnesota where some county roads are being torn up and turned to gravel.”
Road committee chairman Steve Goode is trying to find out the exact number of mail routes that are maintained for state and federal regulations, and he said that the county needed to be discriminatory when spending money on maintenance and repair.
“It is up for the developer to come to the judge’s office to place the request to be brought into the county system,” Scroggin said. “Some developers did not realize that. They thought just any platted subdivision would get the same treatment.”
Many roads not in the county system will contain about six inches of compacted base gravel, but even that costs thousands of dollars.
The damage to roads has also been a problem in the county because of natural gas trucks and other large vehicles barreling through the area. The county established a road police position and named Jason Bell as road police officer, but after having his commission removed by Faulkner County Sheriff Karl Byrd for conduct problems, he was terminated by Scroggin for the inability to perform his job. It has been reported that Bell only wrote seven tickets in four and a half years. He did write a ticket for a year after starting his job, and he had not written a ticket for the past two years. None of his tickets were about weight limit violations or hauling laws. Most were for speeding or other travelling violations.