By Zachary Pena Staff Writer
Avoiding a pothole is often as easy as slightly turning a steering wheel, but this is not the case for Bath resident Kristi Schaeding.
Schaeding lives in a rural area of Bath, where dirt roads constantly reshape themselves and create countless potholes year-round. Schaeding isn’t the only one facing the problem, either.
Bath Township and the Clinton County Road Commission have received many rural road complaints and are now finalizing an asset management plan, which the Township hopes will fix problem spots in communities as well as better maintain all roads.
Current funding for Bath road maintenance comes to $200,000, Bath Charter Township Superintendent Troy Feltman said. After the asset management plan is set in motion, $500,000 will be allotted for road maintenance, according to a Clinton County Road Commission estimate.
“We have engineers putting together the plan right now,” Feltman said. “We hope to have improved grating of roads, specific and appropriate fixes, and an overall, comprehensive view of these roads.”
He said if legislators happen to alter funding for the worse, Bath Township would seek other funding from either local funds or even new millages.
The Township may be working with the Clinton County Road Commission on this plan, but Schaeding said the constant altering of her vehicle’s alignment is caused by the commission’s lack of grating and upkeep.
“It is not really the township’s fault,” she said. “It is the Clinton County Road Commission not keeping up with it as much as maybe they could.”
Rural roads are only grated when dirt contains the right amount of moisture, said Joseph Pulver, Clinton County Road Commission’s Managing Director.
“Right now, you can’t scrape anything because the roads are snowed over,” he said. “In a couple weeks, (roads) will probably be so soft that we can’t even touch them.”
Pulver said his crew does the best it can with such sporadic changes in the dirt’s moisture and sometimes utilize special blades, which break into the ice-covered roads.
“This time of year, it’s a frustration even to us trying to keep the roads passable,” said Pulver.
While inserting gravel is the most cost-efficient method of road repair in Bath, Pulver said potholes often push it back out when moisture and temperature
“It costs so much to try to repave these roads, so they’re tearing them back to gravel,” he said. “You can fix gravel fairly quickly, but everything has to be optimal in order to grate it properly.”
Feltman said the community’s water “basically drained years ago,” and now the roads get “nasty” and difficult to maintain at certain times of the year.
He said he wants Bath Township’s asset management plan completed by May, and ready to submit to budget managers in July.