Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why the county proposed a road and bridge levy

    On the May 20 ballot, voters will be asked to approve or reject a two-year Road and Street Levy. It is important that the public understand the condition of our roads, why we need a levy, and how it will affect them.
     Blaine County’s primary source of road and bridge funding is the state fuel tax, which has remained 25 cents per gallon since 1996. Cars have become more efficient while the cost of asphalt, machinery and construction materials have decreased the value of the fuel revenues by almost 30 percent. Currently, there are no property taxes or local funds used to maintain Blaine County roads.
    For the past several years, the county has responded to the growing funding gap by depleting road reserves, deferring road maintenance, and postponing road projects. The result of this situation has brought us to a critical tipping point. If we delay investing money to preserve our roads, we will be spending more money for rehabilitation. It is the same concept as changing the oil in our cars rather than waiting for the engine to fail.
    Roads are rated by Remaining Service Life (RSL) of one to 20 years. A newly constructed road has a rating of 20 RSL. Ideally, roads are maintained at 10-13 RSL because it is far more effective to keep a good road in good condition than it is to let it fail. By providing preventative and corrective treatments to a road with an RSL of 10, we can add up to seven years of service life. Corrective treatments on roads below 7 RSL are less effective and therefore less cost efficient. Roads below 4 RSL require reconstruction.
    Currently, we have an average inventory rating of 8.5 RSL. The recent Blaine County Transportation Study demonstrated that if we do not increased road funding, we would have several roads at or below 6 RSL in the near future. It will cost far more to bring these road back to good condition than it will to do preventative and corrective maintenance now.
    For more information on the Road and Street Levy, please go to
Char Nelson
Director of County Operations


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