Public forum takes on bad roads in Claiborne County

Public forum takes on bad roads in Claiborne County

Many of the roads in the county were flooded and washed out. Many of the roads in the county were flooded and washed out.

TAZEWELL (WATE) – Residents in Claiborne County packed the Old County Courthouse Monday evening hoping to get answers to a problem that's three decades old - poor road conditions.

The county mayor called the public forum because he's been getting so many calls from people complaining about the areas in which they live.

The road superintendent said they had barely any money in the budget to maintain roads to begin with, but some severe storms in June made their situation much worse. Many of the roads were flooded and washed out.

The mayor said one big problem is there's too little money in the road department budget.

"How in the name of God do we expect the road superintendent to take care of roads in Claiborne County with a 3% increase in 10 years?" asked Mayor Jack Daniels.

While they have been declared a FEMA disaster area, the road superintendent said that funding is not an immediate answer to the many asking for help.

"We've had over a million dollars worth of damage, but who knows when we'll get the money from FEMA," said Road Superintendent Mike Sharp.

One woman who spoke up at the meeting said she was worried about her new car.

"I've got a brand new PT Cruiser convertible and I can't take it down the road," she said.

Things got more heated when others like Bill Angel explained the response he got from the county when he complained about his road.

"You stood right here sir, spitting in my face and one of your men said I had better leave while I can still walk," said Angel as he addressed Sharp.

The mayor believes the solution is not in raising taxes. "The budget of the road department needs a major overhaul," said Mayor Daniels.

He also said county heads need to sit together, move cash around and figure out some big bumps on their roads.

The way that most of the FEMA funding works is that the county pays for the repairs up front, then gets reimbursed by FEMA.

The road superintendent said the problem is they know some areas have been waiting to get reimbursed for money spent in 2009, so they don't want to count on FEMA help.

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