By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer
Published: Monday, May 12, 2014 at 21:55 PM.
While the harsh winter earlier this year has been substituted for warmer temperatures, Kinston motorists are still feeling the effects of the cold season.
Potholes, which have been a chief issue in the city for years, have become even more of a nuisance for travelers due to the snow and ice which battered roads in early 2014.
Kinston resident Michael Harris said potholes have always been a problem for him in the city.
“Ever since I’ve been here, areas of Herritage, Plaza and Vernon have been terrible,” he said. “Then when they’re repaired, the streets can be so uneven in some spots. Of course, salt deterioration could play a role, especially with the weather we had earlier this year.”
Will Kilpatrick, another Kinston resident, said the potholes have had an impact on motorists, including his mother.
“My mom actually had a tire damaged on Herritage Street about three months ago,” he said.
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said he understands the concerns of the public, but lowered revenue in the city can make repairs difficult.
“The road conditions in Kinston are not where they need to be,” Murphy said. “One of the struggles we have faced in budgeting is the overall decline in tax base and the reduction of dollars from the state for resurfacing without any significant change to number of miles of roads we have to resurface. We should be spending roughly $500,000 a year, and we are spending less than half of that, so we’ve had to be creative with other projects.
“For example, with the railroad closure, we’ve been able to resurface areas in Mitchelltown using railroad funds. When we need to replace water and sewer pipes, we’ve tried to find funds for resurfacing also, but those have become more and more limited.”
The mayor is familiar with the biggest trouble spots in the city.
“One of the most common requests we’ve received is repaving Herritage Street and that is a high priority for us,” Murphy said. “But because of the price of more than $1.5 million, we may have to consider alternate finance methods to complete that project and some others.”
Another problem includes the recent engine failure of Kinston’s only pothole repair truck. Kinston Public Services Director Rhonda Barwick said the snow and ice storms separated asphalt, creating potholes and the alternative solutions aren’t as efficient.
“We were trying to get potholes repaired, but last week our pothole truck died,” Barwick said. “We tried to replace it last year, and unfortunately, we didn’t make it. We’ve requested a replacement truck and are looking at other options such as leasing another for the remainder of the year. Right now, we’re putting asphalt on a dump truck and shoveling it to fill potholes, but it’s not as effective as the truck. We’re doing what we can, because the longer the potholes stay on the road, the more damage they can cause.”
Barwick said the roads are important to the city leadership, but officials also need to balance the budget.
“The city would like to be on a 25-year replacement plan for roads, but that means $550,000 toward each year, which the city simply doesn’t have,” Barwick said. “The last few years, we’ve been around $160,000 to $200,000. When the council meets, this is what they’ll be faced with, knowing the most important thing is balancing the budget and making sure there are enough funds for everything.”
Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.