How often do you hear someone say their road needs to be fixed in Cullman County? Obviously, we would all love to travel down perfectly paved roads in Cullman County, but unfortunately, that is unfeasible, and Cullman Daily is here to break it down for you with simple math and facts.
Cullman County currently has a total budget of $67,400,000. One may look at that number and wonder how the Cullman County Commission could not have the funds to pave and keep the county roads in pristine shape. However, if you have ever questioned Cullman County roads, you are not alone. Cullman County roads have been an important topic, essentially since the county was founded in 1877. Yes, even in 1877, citizens raised questions about the dirt roads that led to farmland.
Cullman County is more than just roads. The county’s 67.4 million dollar budget has to be spread out amongst thirteen departments that the county commission oversees. Do you enjoy clean water, having someone pick up your trash each week, safety provided by the sheriff’s office, parks for your children to enjoy, or buses to pick your grandparents up for doctor’s appointments or groceries? These are just a few examples of other departments that the Cullman County Commission oversees other than ‘your road.’
Let’s break down the total budget versus roads in Cullman County. Again, the Cullman County Commissions’ total budget for the fiscal 2021-2022 year is 67.4 million dollars. There are approximately 1,563 miles of roads that the Cullman County Commission manages, not including state or interstate roads. Definition of ‘Managing Cullman County Roads’ – paving, working potholes, cleaning ditches, etc. Note: Cullman County has the second-largest number of miles of roads in Alabama, largely due to the many farm roads that started being built many years ago. If paved with asphalt, it cost approximately $120,000 – $150,000 to pave a mile of roadway. However, if the road is chipsealed with gravel, the cost drops to around $45,000 – $50,000 per mileage of the roadway. In Cullman, your higher traveled roads typically are paved with asphalt while your farm-type or rural roads are chipsealed. However, there are still 1,563 miles of roads that have to be maintained by the Cullman County Commission.
If the Cullman County Commission came into the office today and said we are doing away with every department except roads and placing the 67.4 million dollars into Cullman County roads, there is still not enough money to maintain, ideally 1,563 miles of roadway.
Total Budget $67,400,000/$45,000 Chipsealed = 1,497 miles of roads. Note: This would be if every road in Cullman County were Chipsealed.
Total Budget $67,400,000/$120,000 lower end cost to asphalt = 561.6 miles of roads. Note: This would be if every road were asphalt.
Now for a more realistic number: Total Budget $67,400,000/$82,500 = 817 miles of roadways that could be paved or Chipsealed in a year if 100% of the Cullman County Commission budget were to go to roads. You must take into account, no more deputies to protect you, no more clean water, no more parks, no more sanitation to pick up your garbage, and certainly no more busses to pick up your grandparents because you don’t have the time to take them to their doctor’s appointments or to get groceries.
If you follow Cullman County Commissioners or Chairmen, you may have noticed it’s essentially a revolving door. Cullman County citizens spend an enormous amount of time complaining about something that simply can not be ‘fixed.’ Sure, the County Commissioners and Chairman do everything to fix what they can. Still, as the old saying goes, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. The current Cullman County Commission consisting of Chairman Jeff Clemons, Commissioners Garry Marchman, and Kerry Watson, put additional funds into Cullman County roads this fiscal year while also giving Cullman County employees a well-deserved raise across the board. The exciting news gets published, and you guessed it, people complained about the roads.
Cullman County is a special place to live and raise a family. We have exceptional schools, parks, and safety that are second to none. But, yes, our roads may not be in the best of shape, and depending on where you live in the county, your vehicle may require a little more maintenance because of the roads you drive. Unfortunately, there is only so much the Cullman County Commission can do to ‘fix your road,’ but you can rest assured that there is not a day that goes by that Cullman County Commissioners don’t think about ways to save money and ‘fix your road.’