After Flooding, Road & Bridge Department Stretched - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/9/2007-Smith County

After Flooding, Road & Bridge Department Stretched

The damage has been done by the rain and Smith County needs a lot of help. That's the reason for this official declaration in Commissioners Court Monday morning.

"The disaster declaration has been filed with the county clerk this morning. The next step will be to request the assistance of the governor's office, which will be done later this morning," said County Judge Joel Baker. Then Monday afternoon, the City of Tyler asked to be included in the disaster declaration.

The paperwork is now at Governor Rick Perry's desk. If signed, it will declare Smith County in a State of Emergency and qualify it for both state and federal financial aid. The money could go to the county but also individuals who qualify, but we aren't sure who yet.

The road and bridge department is the hardest hit and in need of that money.

Charley Miller is just one of many Smith County Road and Bridge crews assessing the damage on the countless Smith County roads washed out by recent rains.

"We come down here on Friday and fixed it. Then all the rain came Sunday. So, we came down here Sunday fix it again," said Virgil Wilson on the bridge crew. Wilson has fixed the same bridge three times.

Smith county has 1,200 miles of county roads and if you lay every single county road out it would go from downtown Tyler all the way to Toronto, Canada.

"This isn't just Smith County Road and Bridge Department. This affects a lot of departments and a lot of other people," said Charley.

TXDOT has helped in giving Smith County recycled asphalt.

"We are stretched (at this) point. Right now, it's a day to day basis. Hopefully, we don't get any more rain we can start seeing a little progress," said Charley. "We ask people to bear with us be patient. We will get there as quick as we can. We are just so many men trying to do a whole lot of work right now."

Prioritizing is key. First the crews will fix those in landlocked neighborhoods, then the most highly traveled county roads

"With the amount of roads and damage that we have in the county right now people need to really be aware of our barricades and traffic control devices. Leave them (the barricades) where they are at; if it looks like you can go through there, you may not be able to because of an undercut under the road. They are there for a reason," said Charley."Money wise, material wise, men wise it is going to be quite a while for us to recover."

If the weather cooperates, it could be October before all the roads are fixed. Crews say, even before the rains they were not caught up. They said they were still repairing roads damaged in January. And they tell us for each and every day of good soaking rain the department falls another week behind.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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