It's better than nothing

It was an uphill battle from the start, seeking to make a major improvement to the Pilsen road. It would have taken a large investment at a time when it seems that nobody at the local or state level is interested in committing a lot of money, even to a worthwhile project.

Warren Kreutziger, on behalf of the VFW, pressed county commissioners for plans for the Pilsen road on Monday. And the commissioners have a plan — double chip sealing Remington Rd. from U.S. 56 to Pilsen and chip sealing it from Pilsen to 290th Rd. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, chip sealing refers to spreading oil on a road, then spreading gravel or other material on top of that, and double chip sealing is repeating that process.

It results in a blacktop road that very roughly approximates asphalt. It prevents dust (unless the wrong kind of gravel is used, as the county found out in 2009 with 190th Rd. and Upland Rd. going to the county lake). And as long as it’s in good condition, it provides a smoother ride than a gravel road. It’s a far cry from the quality of an asphalt road, though. Asphalt is smoother and more durable. So why use a double chip seal?

Because it’s cheaper. The state doesn’t want to and won’t provide money for the Pilsen road, and the county doesn’t have the money to do it right without cutting spending elsewhere or raising taxes. Overall the county plans on the project costing $467,500. That’s a fraction of what it would cost to overlay 4 inches of asphalt. A 6-inch overlay on 4 miles from K-15 to Tampa cost about $2 million.

Instead of doing it right, the county is going to do it right now. That’s better than leaving it in the condition it’s in. By all means, put a bandage on it. Then the county should start planning how to make a more substantial, longer-lasting improvement — every year, set aside funds specifically for it. If that doesn’t happen, soon enough we’ll be in the same position again, wondering how it got so bad and what we can do about it.

— ADAM STEWART

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