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Natrona County gravel road study delayed until August

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A regularly scheduled checkup on Natrona County roads could be delayed until August.

Natrona County Road and Bridge officials are set to begin a three-year road audit this summer, but the study’s contractors are facing delays due to abnormal winter weather in other regions of the country.

County Road and Bridge officials say the study will ensure an accurate depiction of the condition of more than 276 miles of gravel roads. The study often provides a baseline for road conditions near industrial activity.

“We expect the industry, when they put a lot of stress on our county roads, to repair them to their original level,” Forrest Chadwick, Natrona County Board of Commissioners chairman, said. “We don’t mind getting the roads in shape for their projects, but we want it back in that shape when their done.”

The county maintains more than 633 miles of gravel roads. Only the most highly trafficked roads are considered in the study.

Contractors test the roads for ease of travel and base condition at a cost of $140 per mile.

Michael Haigler, Natrona County road and bridge superintendent, said the study uncovers road failures in the county and provides commissioners with information they need to reinforce road policies.

“You can see where we are improving the roads in the data,” Haigler said. “It’s not a totally useless study. If you ever were to come into the money, you would have some roads ready to go to get to work on.”

Haigler said often the county does not have enough funding to address all of the weaknesses highlighted in current studies.

“We can’t do every project, but we try to pick the ones that are in most need,” Haigler said. “If we don’t have the money, it all goes out the window anyway. A lot of our roads are so old they are off the scale.”

The county currently allocates more than $13 million to road projects. Haigler said that funding often doesn’t go far at costs of more than $30,000 per mile for gravel roads and more than $1 million per mile for paved roads.

Haigler said he expects the gravel road study to conclude by the end of the summer.

Follow reporter Trevor Graff on Twitter @TrevGraff.

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