CORDOVA, Ala. (WIAT) — If you live in Walker County, you know how bad some of the roads are, but people in District 3 feel their area is being ignored.
After several complaints and little to no fixes, residents are fed up. They said it’s not just for convenience, but that the poor road conditions are now a safety issue.
Tim Alexander lives in Cordova and is no stranger to rough roads, but he says this is unacceptable.
“We’ve called to try and get someone to come out and do something and you can’t get anyone on the phone half of the time when you call,” Alexander said.
Alexander lives off of Cordova Gorgas Road and said the area is also heavily travelled by coal trucks and logging trucks–making potholes a constant problem.
“There’s a lot of folks that live on this road that’s complained for years and years and nothing’s been done expect for six months ago when they patched them,” he said. “But [now] all the patching they put in the road, it’s gone.”
Underwood Ferry Road is one of many roads that neighbors are worried about. This road has potholes measuring five inches deep, affecting the safety of drivers.
A few miles away is Granny Hayche Road, which the county shut down thee years ago after it collapsed. Bus drivers like Charlotte Cordell have to go at least 10 miles around the road just to get to the first stop.
“It puts about 20 minutes on me to go around and pick up the kids on the other side. Then it takes me about 5 minutes to get over there from this side. It’s scary because [I’m] trying to dodge cars and dodge holes and everything. Then, on one side up here it’s caving off so it is scary,” Cordell said.
These concerns were taken to the Walker County Commission. Jim Borden, District 3 representative for the commission, said that the district simply doesn’t have the funds to fix all of the problem areas. He explained that the road repair money comes from the state gas tax and is divided evenly among the four districts in Walker County.
The districts are divided evenly by population, but Borden said they are not divided evenly by road miles. He said that District 3 is about a third larger than the others mileage wise, meaning more ground to cover with the same amount of money.
When asked about Underwood Ferry Road, Borden said there were plans to “mill” the road, but that was put on hold due to a timber operation.
“We don’t have the assets to pave the road and [then] six months later, a logging operation haul timber out for six months and tear the roads back up,” Borden said.
If you travel on Cordova Gorgas Road, you’ll notice several “no truck zone” signs. However, trucks can often be seen along the road. Borden said plans were in place to help ease traffic from trucks.
“The state will be coming in to build a new entrance off of 269 to Mary Lee Road. I think that will address some of the trucking problems. But as far as Gorgas Road or Underwood Ferry Road, you cannot stop someone from coming in and cutting their timber. They have a right to do it,” he said.
Walker County engineer Mike Short said that if more money was generated, the commission could make more progress.
“If we were to have a special tax only for Walker County, which would have to be approved by the voters, we would get that amount– whatever it would be. Therefore, in my opinion, we are behind the eight ball,” Short said.
Short said that the repairs aren’t perfect, but they’re the best options with the money available.
“It would be like someone giving you $500 a month and telling you to go buy a house and pay a mortgage, and make a car payment. I mean, it can’t be done,” he said.
Borden said he is working to make the roads better, explaining how he bought a new DuraPatcher truck so that the district now has two trucks to use for road projects. However, being underfunded remains an ongoing problem.
When it comes to future plans for the district, Borden said road conditions are a top priority, but he “just needs time.”