By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
The results of an efficiency study on local and county highway services are in for Montgomery County.
At Tuesday's General Services Committee meeting for the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, Doug Greene, senior planner for the Department of Economic Development and Planning, filled supervisors in on the study.
"A consultant was hired to look at ways to look for better efficiencies and look for better coordination perhaps between the county department of highways and all the local town, village and city highway superintendents," Greene explained.
A steering committee, made up of county supervisors as well as local highway superintendents, worked with consultant Michael Hattery to follow the procedure to gather info on the existing conditions.
All 21 municipal highway superintendents were interviewed by the steering committee.
"After the inventory, information was gather from all the superintendents, and we started putting together the initial mapping and then there was the first step of alternative reports put together that started to put together some possible courses of action," Greene said.
He showed the map to the supervisors showing county, local, and state roadways.
The report consists of a section on existing conditions of facilities, infrastructure, equipment, personnel and cooperative efforts; an alternatives report talking about a series of possible actions to address the situations noted in the existing conditions section; as well as an implementation report.
Throughout the process, the most significant "revelation" was the fact that about 57 percent of the roads in the county are county roads, a number that, Greene said, ends up being one of the highest county percentages in the state.
Recommendations were made in nearly every town to take the county roads and move them to the towns and local municipalities; however, the recommendation was deemed to not be feasible.
Greene said the reason for that was that it was neither practical nor economical as revenue would be lost and the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, or CHIPS, money would be reduced for the county.
It was also recommended that perhaps over time there could be a way to gradually move the roads back over to the towns, he said.
The last part of the study included four major implementation sections.
According to the report document, the first piece involves creating a Montgomery County Infrastructure Coordination Council, that would help communities in the county to work together to "maximize infrastructure investments."
The report details that the council would be two-tiered, the first consisting of an executive committee of municipal members, "selected by all participating public organizations," and a second tier that would include representatives from across the municipalities and "relevant public organizations." The point is to increase coordination, Greene said.
"Especially when you consider that the new legislature, the new county government next year, will also include a capital improvement program. And that's going to be really important as you look ahead to the four- and five-year horizon for future capital projects," he said. "Coordination at that level is going to be really important so we're not duplicating or missing opportunities to work together."
The report also details recommendations to put together better record-keeping, specific long-term projects, and better inventory and sign management.
The full results of the study will be placed on the county's website, along with the series of maps.