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Orphaned road gets some TLC

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image A lesson in new approaches to repairing old potholes was on tap when Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan (second from left) checked on efforts to recover the little SCC Plaza road at least for the short term. Melody Jameson Photo

After years of deterioration, numerous complaints, multiple discussions, the last of the potholes in the short but important Sun City Center Plaza road were repaired this week.

By MELODY JAMESON

Sun City Center – It may not be the forever solution, but this community’s potholed, unclaimed road now has a functional fix.

What’s more, it was both free and environmentally friendly.

After years of deterioration, numerous complaints, multiple discussions, the last of the potholes in the short but important Sun City Center Plaza road were repaired this week.

No more than a long city block, the road gives access to post office patrons as well as to plaza store customers, professional office clients and chamber visitors.

The work was done, at no charge as a community service, by a Bradenton-based company using patented technology incorporating thermal heat to seal close and eliminate potholes such as the ones which have endangered golf cart drivers and tested vehicle suspension systems. 

While many groups, agencies and individuals have worked to find a solution to repair of the little road for which no established legal ownership could be found, the solution now in place came together with the help of at-large Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan and through coordination by the SCC Chamber of Commerce.

The increasingly intense problem dates back at least a year when Ed Barnes, president of the SCC Community Association, began looking for a means of arranging repairs as drivers trying to use the road complained loudly. Minto Communities, the current developer, soon stepped up to provide an estimate for resurfacing the road. That cost, engineers said, could top $40,000, if no sub-surface problems were discovered.

But there was no one to share the cost; no known legal owners. The county’s code enforcement office suggested potential solutions forced by legal pressures might evolve if the situation were to go unresolved long enough. A county attorney determined legal ownership would have to accrue to owners of five properties abutting the roadway. And ownership could involve not only financial outlay but also liability and long-term responsibility. As an alternative, the county could take possession of the roadway after a period of years elapsed.

Striving for another perspective, Hagan began thinking in terms of putting a county vendor together with community leaders. Enter B Pothole Free, which does work throughout West Central Florida and has provided services to Hillsborough County.

Hagan said this week he mentioned the project to the Bradenton company, reasoning that left-over materials from one of the company’s paid assignments might be applied to the little road no one wanted to claim.

B Pothole Free agreed. The chamber coordinated agreement among the property owners to a standard “hold harmless” waiver. And the pothole specialist began work on the half dozen deep and large holes in the roadway surface late last week, planning to finish up this week.   

The crew first cleaned out the holes, filled them with road building materials and then topped the former potholes with asphalt caps larger than the craters and applied under thermal heat, effectively creating an impervious bond with the surrounding solid roadway surface, said Matt Robinson, company vice president. The system is environmentally friendly because it reuses material from removed macadam, reducing landfill discards and highway hauling trips, Robinson added.

Due to their size and depth, the repair was equivalent to 12 routine potholes and one of them had been patched in the past with concrete which had to be dug out in chunks, he said. However, having seen the risks drivers were taking to try to avoid the holes, Robinson added he was glad to be able to provide the service.

Dana Dittmar, chamber executive director, also expressed appreciation for Hagan’s help and the B Pothole Free service. “It was a real public safety situation.” she noted.  “The work this week is not the final solution.” she added, “but it gives us time to find that resolution.”

The chamber board of directors is to discuss the matter in detail during its annual retreat later this month.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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