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To help stabilize gravel roads, Carroll County to experiment with set of different materials

In this file photo, a county maintenance vehicle driven by Ricky Wetzel grades a section of John Shirk Road in Taneytown.
In this file photo, a county maintenance vehicle driven by Ricky Wetzel grades a section of John Shirk Road in Taneytown. (DAVE MUNCHSTAFF PHOTO, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

After last year’s series of downpours, Carroll County government will test out three methods to stabilize gravel roads over the next year in Districts 1 and 4.

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday approved $68,284 in contracts for gravel stabilization projects on John Shirk, Baughman Mill, and Bethel roads.

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At the commissioners’ behest after last year’s “historic rain,” Doug Brown, deputy director of public works, and Eric Silverman, area roads chief, sought ways to secure gravel roads that are particularly difficult for area roads personnel to manage, Brown said.

The contractors will test three options: cement-treated gravel, double chip seal, and cement-treated plus double chip seal, according to Brown. The most effective mixture may be applied to gravel roads across the county.

“We know we have customers in the county who love their gravel roads, so this maintains that feel, we hope, while giving us the ability to test three different types at one time to allow us over a year’s period to take a look at these options and see which one offers the highest quality, most cost-effective stabilization for gravel roads,” Brown said.

John Shirk and Baughman Mill roads reside in the district of Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, while Bethel Road is in Commissioner Eric Bouchat’s area, District 4.

“I think this is wonderful,” Bouchat said.

The gravel tests will occur between driveways 1507 and 1616 on John Shirk Road, between the sections of railroad tracks on Baughman Mill Road, and between 5701 and 5754 Bethel Road, according to the commissioners’ meeting agenda.

Each road will have a 500-foot test section of each of the three options, according to Brown. Roberta Windham, county administrator, said after the meeting that she expects the changes will be implemented in the next 30 days.

The county will observe the roads over four seasons to find out what works best and then return to the commissioners with a price tag for possible future projects, Brown said.

A letter will be sent in the mail to residents affected by the change, and the county communications office created online maps that depict the roads. The maps can be found at carrollcountymd.gov under the roads operations page.

Windham estimated about 60 homeowners live along these roads.

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