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Road crew fixes problem from clay pocket

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By Jeff M. Hardison

BRONSON - They build, repair and maintain roads in Levy County.

This team of 67 men and women make up the Levy County Road Department and they make sure the highways and byways allow people to traverse them.

Watching work at one site for a couple of hours on March 5 provided an opportunity to see one aspect of the work they do.

A pocket of clay under Levy County Road 335 near the intersection of CR 241 had created a big dip in the road. Road Department Administrator Bruce Greenlee experienced the problem himself, he said, and he put it on the list of roads needing repair.

In this instance, a road maintenance crew dug up a section of the asphalt, removed the clay, put down Tensar mesh, replaced the clay spot with "good dirt," compacted that section of road with a roller and added about eight inches of limestone. Tensar is a thin, flat, plastic mesh that helps distribute weight equally across an area

Then they let the area settle for a few days. After making sure the section of road was level and sturdy, the team covered the section with new asphalt.

This type of work goes on and on, all over the county. On this particular project, Road Construction Superintendent Kelly Jerrels, Assistant Road Construction Superintendent Jessie Durrance and Road Department Foreman James Horne directed the operation.

These men don't just supervise. They operate machines, pick up asphalt and throw it into loader buckets and grab a shovel where needed. Other members of the crew on this project were Randy Smith and David Fisher, who directed traffic across a temporary section of road built to allow people to continue driving down CR 335; David Coulter, who operated the John Deere Excavator; Robbie Jordan, who operated the backhoe; and Jose Thomas and Chuck Partin, who operated dump trucks to remove asphalt and bring other material to the site.

The road was built four years ago, Greenlee said. When roads create problems for drivers in Levy County, they are repaired. Sometimes potholes are patched. On other occasions, a piece of the road needs to be removed and the road is rebuilt.

Durrance said the crew always builds a small side road for traffic to go around the work site, when it is possible. In other instances, the flagmen must let vehicles use only one lane at a time. This causes a backup, he said, which sometimes is unavoidable.

County road workers stay with the department. There is not a high turnover. Jerrels has been in the department for 26 years. With that time, comes experience that serves as an excellent teacher. For instance, by using the front-end loader for asphalt being dumped into the dump truck, rather than using the Excavator, it allows for a quicker and more even loading, Jerrels said.

The work on CR 335 was scheduled during relative good weather conditions.

If emergency roadwork is needed, however, the crew can be called out.

Jerrels remembered the "No-Name Storm" in 1993. He saw water cover the intersection of CR 40 and CR 48 very quickly. Within two or three hours, he said, the water was six to eight feet above the surface of the road in the Yankeetown area.

Come rain or shine, day in and day out, the Levy County Road Department keeps repairing, maintaining and building roads so that residents and visitors can travel in Levy County.