Resident complains about road work quality _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Stephanie Warren -- St. Helena resident Larry Freeman speaks to the St. Helena Parish Police Jury during a Jan. 27 meeting. He is concerned about asphalt recently laid on near the church he attends in Greensburg.

St. Helena Parish officials are looking into a complaint from a resident who says he does not believe enough asphalt was used to pave the road in front of his church, Rocky Hill AME Church.

St. Helena resident Larry Freeman voiced his fury to the St. Helena Parish Police Jury during a Jan. 27 meeting, requesting that it look into the recent road improvement project that included paving Rocky Hill Road in Greensburg.

Freeman told the jury that when the road was paved, he does not believe the asphalt company, Diamond B Construction Company, laid enough asphalt, making the road much smaller.

But parish officials said the road appears to be the same size as before.

Freeman said he does not want the taxpayers to pay for something that they are not getting.

Freeman asked the jury if they would get someone from the engineering company that was hired, Professional Engineering Consultants of Baton Rouge, to find out if the parish is getting the right tonnage of asphalt.

Juror Warren McCray said he contacted PEC and voiced his concerns and requested that someone from their company go out and figure out exactly how many tons of asphalt it took to pave the roads.

“Once they measure and give me a figure, I can then go ask another engineer if the numbers are correct and, if they are not, then we have a problem,” Warren said. “If the numbers do not add up, then we will go from there.”

Police Jury President Theo McCray said Rocky Hill Road was a gravel road before it was paved with asphalt and that may be why the road appears smaller to Freeman.

Crumbling roads are a major problem the St. Helena Parish Police Jury has been trying to solve for years.

In January 2013, jury members were trying to figure out how they were going to come up with the money to pay for repairs.

They considered at that time rededicating money from a parish property tax and also pulling money from the solid waste funds for the road project, Juror Major Coleman said.

The discussion came after voters in May 2013 approved the rededication of a 5-mill property tax that had funded a now-defunct parish health unit and one-half of 1 percent of a 1-cent sales tax that funds the parish’s solid waste collection and disposal services.

That provided about $3 million dollars to repair about 50 miles of dilapidated roads, jurors said.

By June 2013, parish leaders approved funding to repave just less than 40 miles of roadway, or about 6 miles in each of the parish’s six districts, per year.

The Police Jury put the plan into motion and began the road project in March 2014.

Coleman said the roadways that were paved came from a priority list written when the parish created a master plan of development about three years ago.