Madison, R’land proactive in maintaining street conditions

They have a plan and they’re sticking to it. From overlaying deteriorating roads to filling potholes, officials in both Ridgeland and Madison are ensuring the streets are taken care of. 

To keep up with what needs to be done in what order, Ridgeland uses road surface management software to evaluate streets. 

“Our road plan is probably a year old,” said Mike McCollum, Ridgeland public works director. “We have a five-year road plan.”

McCollum said the city works to fix the most deteriorated roads first and to be proactive.

“We try to take the politics out of it as much as we can and try to get the worst streets first… We take the list and say, if eight or 10 streets need to be overlaid in one neighborhood, we’ll do all of them. That’s how we approach local street overlay.”

When it comes to major arterial streets, McCollum said the city works to overlay them as soon as they show signs of deterioration.

“We get a lot of (financial) help from the county with overlaying major roads.”

The road plan for Ridgeland is updated every three years.

“We’ll go out and do another evaluation. The inspector goes and evaluates the roads based on criteria set up in the road surface management software.”

The road plan also includes an amortization schedule, which determines when roads will need to be rehabilitated.

A rehabilitation project includes curbs, sidewalks, milling off old asphalt, and laying down new materials.

“It depends on where you are,” McCollum said. “One street can last from eight to 15 years. There are lots of different factors that can cause a street to age.”

Road aging factors include trees growing near streets and root systems disrupting the overlay, and type of soil.

“That’s why we go out and try to re-evaluate every three years. Sometimes, priorities change.” 

Madison’s road maintenance plan is handled similarly to Ridgeland’s. 

“We do keep a plan of all our paving needs and try to do it on a priority basis,” said Chad Wages, Madison public works director.

Funding is the main factor in being able to fix and rehabilitate roads.

“Implementation (of the plan) is predicated by available funding, which comes from the mayor and board.”

Wages said the city keeps a list of the worst roads and which ones are deteriorating.

“I’ll present the list to the board for consideration and they’re responsible for funding. Some years there’s more funding than others, and we just try to work on a priority basis.”

The list is updated constantly, according to Wages, and the city keeps a record of each street and subdivision paved in past years so that officials know how long ago each street was overlayed.

“Ideally, we’d like to get subdivisions to last seven to nine years before they go bad. With soil and other conditions, you can’t always get 10 years. Right now, some are in pretty rough conditions that we’d like to get in and rehabilitate. We do the best we can with the funding we have.”

Both cities do their best to fix potholes within two or three days of knowing about them.

“Potholes are fixed immediately,” said McCollum. “If we know about it, it’s usually fixed within a day or two.”

Ridgeland has a small milling machine that is used specifically for potholes.

“We mill the surface off and the bad dirt out of the pothole, then we repack it with asphalt,” McCollum explained.

The machine cost $90,000 when the city purchased it five years ago.

“If the pothole is real small, we might just put asphalt in it and not mill it out.” 

For Ridgeland and Madison, the public serves as public works’ notification system for potholes.

“There’s no shortage of people letting us know where our potholes are,” said Wages. “The population serves as our inspector, and we try to get out there as quickly as possible.”

Wages said the city doesn’t have a pothole machine, but when weather is especially cold or rainy, the city uses a cold asphalt mix as a temporary patch.

“As it quits raining and the road dries up, we’ll clean out the cold mix and fill the pothole with a hot mix, which is a permanent patch.”

Potholes are more likely to form during cold and rainy weather.

“We get potholes on an everyday basis when weather is bad,” said Wages. “Water gets in the crack and with traffic, it works it (open). When the weather is clear and sunny, we’ll get a pothole every two to three days.”

Wages said he and other public works employees go out at least once a week, even when they’re not getting calls, to ensure the roads are maintained.

“We make sure we’re maintaining any patched holes and things are in good condition,” he said.

Madison public works strives to fix the pothole the same day they’re notified of the damage.

“Lots of folks think we automatically know when there’s a pothole. We depend on the public and phone calls.”

To inform Ridgeland about an outstanding pothole, call 601-853-2027. To notify Madison, call 601-856-8958.

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