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Price of progress

Heavy trucks not causing problems on city streets …yet

Paving crews lay asphalt on Howard Street during the city’s 2019 resurfacing project.

News Staff Writer

A significant increase in the number of heavy trucks hauling construction equipment and materials to the numerous construction projects ongoing within Atmore apparently hasn’t had a negative effect on city streets. Yet.
“Our streets are in pretty good shape right now,” said Calvin Grace, director of the city’s streets and sanitation department. “I wouldn’t say (the onslaught of heavy vehicles) is doing any damage, not that I can see.”
Grace said most city streets can handle the occasional truckload of lumber or other building materials for residential construction. But, he agreed, the constant appearance along municipal thoroughfares of trucks bringing steel, loads of dirt or other heavy loads could begin to take its toll after a while.
“If you’re just unloading materials for building a house, that’s fine,” he said. “But if you’re going to be running trucks on the streets all day, you’re going to have to find another route. For instance, where they’re building the new assisted living place off McRae Street (Atmore Senior Village), if you’ve got dump trucks on the streets all day, it will tear them up after a while.”
The street department director said steps have been taken to eliminate that possibility in some areas, with more of the same planned if problems evolve elsewhere from heavy use of streets not designed for such stress.
“There are some streets we don’t allow trucks to go on,” he said. “If we figure it’s going to tear a street up, we put up ‘no trucks allowed’ signs. You can’t block people from progress, but by the same right, we don’t want people to tear up city streets and leave us with the burden of getting them fixed. The streets inside the city limits are just not designed for these trucks, all day every day.”
There is some relief in store for heavily traveled city streets that are already showing signs of degradation.
City council members recently presented “wish lists” of streets in their respective districts that are most in need of repair or resurfacing. Those lists have been turned over to Jeremy McMath of Civil Southeast, who will determine the estimated cost of resurfacing each one and report back to the council.
City Clerk Becca Smith said she doesn’t know yet how many of the listed streets will be included in the upcoming city-wide paving project. A lot could depend upon the $1.69 million the city will receive under the American Rescue Plan.
“It will depend on how much money we have that we can put into paving,” Smith said. “We’ll know more when we find out more about the stimulus money we will be getting and how we can use it.”
Grace, who pointed out that the asphalt covering city streets isn’t as thick as the six inches usually layered on state or federal highways, said he doesn’t see any major problems arising from the increased strain the construction-related traffic puts on city streets.
“I don’t foresee it doing any major damage,” he said. “If it (population growth) goes good like we hope it does, we might have to do some street repairs, but all in all, our streets are in fair shape.”