For the first time in about 20 years, residents who live on county gravel roads can have them paved at no cost if they meet the criteria.

Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams said his office has been receiving some inquiries, so he told the county commission the old provision policy needed to be updated.

“This program was suspended a number of years ago,” Williams said. “This new policy spells out what needs to be done to get the roads hard-surfaced. ”

Williams estimates 40 percent of the county-controlled roads in the western portion of the county are unpaved and that number shrinks to 15 percent in the east.

Once the roads are paved the county will continue to maintain them at their current level into the future.

“We are going to build decent roads,” Williams said. “It could be up to a three-year process and bottom line, we aren’t going to rush just to get something done.”

Procedure

According to the new policy, there are certain steps residents must follow to get the process started.

In order to be “eligible” a road must not be unreasonably susceptible to flooding and/or erosion, must provide a true public benefit as determined by the Franklin County Commission after receiving a recommendation from the county highway administrator.

A petition must be signed by the property owners owning at least 75 percent of the frontage (both sides) along the road to be hard-surfaced. It is the responsibility of the petitioning property owner to obtain the required signatures.

Once the petition has been submitted, the highway department will review the petition in order to verify that the proper persons or entities have executed the petition.

The department will then utilize the petition to obtain all of the names and addresses of the property owners abutting the road.

The county highway department will prepare the necessary roadway/utility easement deeds dedicating the necessary easement to the county.

At such time as all required deeds have been submitted to the county and have been recorded the conversion process will commence.

The conversion consists of a three-step process, compaction, widening or straightening and hard surfacing, which can take a considerable amount of time to complete.