Lauderdale County Supervisors on Thursday learned county roads have improved over the past three years as part of an updated road-mapping study conducted by Southaven-based civil engineering firm Civil Link, LLC.

Civil Link engineer Steve Bigelow told supervisors an updated 2021 study showed a seven percent improvement in overall road conditions from the initial study his company did in 2018.

“The summary here this morning is that you do have a stable network,” he said. “Gains have been made.”

As part of the study, Bigelow said, Civil Link goes through and rates roads on a 1-10 scale. Roads rated ten are in perfect condition, and roads rated one are in critical shape. Since the 2018 study, he said, Lauderdale County roads have improved from an average score of 5.6 to six.

Lauderdale County has about 1.5 miles of road rated as one, eight miles of roads rated two, 23 miles of roads rated three and 46 miles of roads rated four, Bigelow said. For these roads, which are in the worst shape, the county can do a major overlay, pothole patching, full-depth reclamation and road reconstruction, he said.

In the middle of the scale, Bigelow said, Lauderdale County has about 253 miles of roads rated five and 128 miles of roads rated six. These are the roads where minor repair and maintenance projects can extend the life of the road and avoid the cost of a large resurfacing project, he said.

“I was in road maintenance for 20 years, and there’s nothing like a resurfaced road,” he said. “But from a cost effective standpoint, there’s other treatments you can do, and it’s cheaper and you can get more roads done annually.”

Lauderdale County also has about 107 miles of roads rated seven, 111 miles of roads rated eight and 52 miles of roads rated nine.

“These are your very, very good roads,” Bigelow said.

Overall, Bigleow said the county has shown improvement, and credit should be given to the efforts of the county road department for its efforts.

The Civil Link report also shows the cost of maintaining county roads, including how much the county would have to spend each year to pay for the projects. Bigelow said a 7-year budget would have the county spending approximately $9.1 million to repair about 102 miles of road each year. A 10-year budget would have the county spend about $5.6 million each year to repair about 66 miles.

Budgeting more than $9 million a year for seven years is a pretty tall order, Bigelow said, and it may be more realistic for the county to shoot for a 10-year budget instead. The budgets, projects and timelines included in the report are an assured way of resolving road issues, he said, but the county is not obligated to follow the step-by-step plan.

Along with the report, which was delivered to the board of supervisors Thursday, Lauderdale County Road Manager Rush Mayatt will have access to a computerized model of the data to help plan projects. Bigelow said Mayatt would be able to use the software to identify which road projects would be most beneficial to the county based on the roads’ conditions.

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