By Justin Boron
County transportation workers hurried to finish up the first spate of Special Local Option Sales Tax paving projects last week before the winter's first cold snap set in and made laying asphalt an impossibility until at least March, said Wayne Patterson, the director of transportation and development.
Most of the projects ended just as the thermometer dropped and the cold rain came into the area, he said.
In Jonesboro, construction workers rolled out the blacktop for the downtown area's new parking lot just one day before nighttime lows dropped to the 40s.
"Once the temperature starts dropping, it takes so long for the asphalt to get the right temperature," Patterson said. "It's not a good job because the asphalt cools too quickly."
The county knocked out about 15 percent of the 556 miles on the 1,700 streets it plans to repave as part of the 5-year SPLOST program it implemented at the start of this year, he said.
Each county commission district in the county received about 100 projects, Patterson said.
"The people are seeing that we're doing what we promised," he said.
Rashad Stillwell, who has lived off Kendrick Road in Jonesboro for 8 years, said the paving on his neighborhood streets couldn't come soon enough.
"They should have been redone years ago," he said. "Paving around here has always been a problem."
A street usually needs re-paving after seven years, Patterson said.
The roads around Kendrick had not been redone for more than 15 years, said Ed Shepard, who has lived on Bowen Court for 14 years.
Oil stains, gas, transmission fluid, and potholes had riddled streets with inconsistencies, making a drive down the road difficult to bear, Stillwell said.
"I can't count how many flat tires I've had," he said.
But the new pavement has revamped the appearance of the neighborhood and made the ride almost too easy, neighbors say.
Shepard said people drive much faster over the roads now.
Even with the speeders, which the residents say endanger pedestrians, the road improvements are worth it, residents said.
"It makes the neighborhood better," Stillwell said.