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By Mary Alice Murphy

The first main item on the Grant County Commission work session agenda for Jan. 9, 2018 was a report from Aaron Sussman of Bohannon Huston, who has been working on an Asset Management Plan for Grant County roads.

Sussman said the intent is to come back in the spring with the final report.

The scope includes evaluating the transportation assets of the county and the future cost of infrastructure.

He explained the plan is funded through the Department of Finance and Administration through a grant to the county.

"The plan links the decision makers to the processes," Sussman said. "It determines which roads are the most critical, then defines the level of service, organizes the maintenance schedule, along with the projected lifespan of the roads and the cost analysis of maintaining and repairing them."

To determine which roadways provide a critical function, they are assigned to priority tiers, such as access to employment sites, school bus routes, recreation, land use, risk of extreme events, the role and function of the roadway access and the connections across the county.

The level of service defines the desired roadway conditions. "We will evaluate and contrast the roads against current conditions and how to get them to the desired conditions," Sussman said. "The level of service for unpaved roads would guide the frequency of maintenance and will guide the upgrades."

He noted that paved roads are cost more. However, they deteriorate at a predictable rate and can dictate the level of surface for maintenance.

"It comes back to the life cycle costs and costs that the county must come up with over time," Sussman said.

The financial analysis will consider available resources and whether additional resources will be needed.

Commissioner Harry Browne said it struck him that the county has other assets, such as the airport and buildings, including volunteer fire stations.

"This grant is for utilities and transportation," Sussman said. "This is far more robust than just an inventory of assets. Given the scope, we are broadening the decision-making tools."

Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked if the county could get further grants for other assets.

County Manager Charlene Webb said the grant is specifically for utilities and transportation, but "we can take what we learn here and apply it to other assets. The roads are our most valuable assets. We already have an inventory of buildings. Bohannon-Huston has gone above and beyond what was required. We will have the methodology to be done by staff for other capital assets."

Browne said he presumed the county has a routine maintenance schedule for roads.

Road Superintendent Earl Moore said, with this evaluation, "we will be able to come up with resources for rebuilding roads."

Webb said some grants require an asset maintenance plan, which this will provide. "It will also be useful for commissioner to use with constituents, when they call about their road and can be told that it is on the schedule to be repaired, repaved or redone in a certain year. It's a tool we can all use."

Commissioner Billy Billings said his district has a lot of rural roads. "My constituents want 'my road' done now. So this will let me know how to tell them that other roads are of a higher priority."

The next presentation by Santa Clara Mayor Richard Bauch about the village's attempts to get ownership of Fort Bayard will be covered in a comprehensive separate article.

Live from Silver City

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