Great questions from Kim Frazier.
We have mentioned before our concern about the grossly underfunded Knox County roads budget, the obligations of which apparently grow monthly as developers hand over new roads for county maintenance.
From Compass yesterday –
Street Talk: An item titled “Acceptance of New County Roads” is a staple on Knox County Commission agendas — nine out of the last 12 months, commissioners have accepted the conveyance of roads built in new subdivisions by developers. Those neighborhood streets are crucial to the subdivisions’ viability, but maintaining them is an expense and hassle for developers who generally don’t have their own highway departments. So after building the roads to the specifications of county codes, they donate them to the county, i.e., the general public — for whom they become both assets and liabilities.
At-large County Commissioner Kim Frazier, who was just sworn in last month, has a particular interest in the the way costs and impacts associated with development are externalized to the surrounding communities. As a founder of Hardin Valley Planning Advocates and the Knox County Planning Alliance, she has for years argued that those costs are often overlooked or underestimated when Commission approves new development plans.
So this month, as Commission considered accepting roads from the Roefield subdivision near Gettysvue Golf Club in West Knox County, Frazier requested a briefing on the long-term financial implications.
Jim Snowden, the county’s senior director of engineering and public works, said the county currently has about 1,730 miles of roads and over the past 25 years has on average added about nine miles per year in new residential roads.
Those new roads can typically be expected to last about 20 years without major repair, Snowden said, but eventually need to be milled and resurfaced. At current prices — including what he said is an “all-time high” cost of asphalt — it costs about $220,000 to pave a mile of road.
Snowden added that some of the issues being discussed in the Advance Knox planning process could help reduce those costs in the future — particularly “scenarios that limit our continued sprawl and allow for less of these roadways like this, with higher density and maybe even narrower streets.”
But for now, commissioners voted to accept the Roefield roads.