By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Brandon Smith agrees with and understands the concern of several dozen Ewing Drive residents who feel that Escambia County commissioners have paid little attention to their requests for repairs to the decaying rural roadway.
Smith, who represents District 4 on the commission and was selected Monday as the panel’s vice-chair, said the road is on the district’s “long list” of paving projects to be tackled in 2019. But, he added, both time and money will determine how long it takes before the road, one of the county’s worst, is brought up to snuff.
“I’m aware there’s a problem with Ewing Drive (which is also known locally as Ewing Road and Ewing Farm Road), and it’s one of the ones I’m looking at on my long list. But we had an estimate done, and that particular road will cost $1.7 million to resurface and fix. It’s about half dirt, half asphalt, and it has bridges on it. It’s a real expensive project.”
Smith’s comments were in reply to the filing of a petition by 50 residents who live along Ewing Drive or along nearby Old Jack Springs Road and Ruth Estates, both of which connect to Ewing Drive. The petitioners feel that their past requests have gone unheeded and want something done.
“Previous requests to Commissioner Brandon Smith have been ignored, and now the condition of the road poses dangerous driving routes, especially to those traveling at night,” reads the filing, which was reportedly presented to Smith, Commission Chairman Raymond Wiggins and County Engineer Bill Bridges. “We request your immediate attention.”
Smith pointed out that immediate plans are to eliminate some of the ditch accumulation that prevents water from flowing off Ewing Drive and to put new surfacing on a small portion of it, when weather permits.
“On this round we want to at least put down 1.1 miles of asphalt where the worst patches are,” he said. “But we’ve got to wait until it dries out. That’s been one of our biggest headaches recently. But when we can, we’re going to pull the ditches and get water flowing out there again. We want to do something to help these folks. We know that road is horrible. We’ve tried every way we can to do something, it’s just expensive.”
The commissioner noted that the preliminary repair work scheduled for Ewing Drive and Old Jack Springs Road, while it won’t address the entirety of each road, will hopefully show residents of the area that county officials are working toward taking care of their needs.
“I’ve talked with several residents; several have called me,” he said. “I don’t want them to think we’ve forgotten about them, because we haven’t. Ewing Road and Old Jack Springs are two that we are working on in that area. They are target roads for us, and we are going to get them, one way or the other.”