Bad Weather, Money Woes Mean Less Road Work

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(Tunica County, MS) Dee Burke logs a lot of miles in his job, and when snow and ice cover the roads it’s near impossible.

He noticed a big change as he crossed the Tunica County line.

”Just more ice on the trees, more ice on the roads.”

It’s been a tough winter in the delta, where Tunica Road Manager Joe Eddie Hawkins says he’s paying a ton in overtime.

”Very unusual. We’ve put in a lot of man-hours.”

All this comes as Tunica has less money to spend than it has in years. Higher expenses and lower casino tax revenue has everyone here looking to economize.

”So it’s been kinda rough, but fortunately we had a lot of salt we hadn’t used in the last four to five years. And that’s helped us out,” explained Hawkins.

He says clearing roads of ice is a safety issue, so it’ll get done.

What won’t get done, is the same roadwork people have come to expect.

Hawkins says he’ll use ‘pavement preservation methods’ to save money.

What are ‘pavement preservation methods’? That means filling potholes and repairing cracks in the road to extend its life, instead of expansive paving.

”You might say we’re kicking the can down the road, but if we can extend the life of it three years at the cost we can do it, it’d be better than laying asphalt” Hawkins said.

It means more hazards for drivers like Dee Burke who says he keeps a sharp eye out for road hazards.

”You just have to be careful. You have to be careful driving, watch and kind of know where you’re going. I’m driving so much during the day I can kinda notice where there might be some trouble spots.”

He says avoiding them, keeps his costs down, in car repairs.