By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Transportation Committee voted Monday to hire its own engineers to prioritize, plan and oversee the road projects that it funds in Anderson County. The name of the company chosen has not been released, because they haven’t been informed yet.
A member of the committee for several years, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the decision will bring a new level of professionalism to the Committee’s efforts, and will help remove political influences on the process. “It will also lighten the load on the county’s engineering department, which really does a good job, but just doesn’t have enough trained engineers on staff.”
County administrator Rusty Burns agreed, saying that the more professional, objective approach should help the county in its efforts to catch up on an infrastructure program that has lagged in recent years, in part because of reduced funding from the state level.
In the past, representatives from various municipalities would essentially come before the committee and make a pitch for funding, making the criteria for awarding the funds somewhat less than objective or based on the greatest impact of the various projects.
The Transportation Committee, which is funded through the state gas tax, will pay the engineering costs. “No money from the county budget will be used,” said the committee member. “This will also let us have engineers on the site when a project is underway. This approach is fairly common across the state, at least in the larger counties. The committee has been working on this for several months, and we are optimistic about how this will work out.”
County director of the roads and bridges department Holt Hopkins welcomed the decision. “This will shorten the process and make it easier for the committee to work with the various municipalities in the county. It will speed things up, and lessen the load on our department, which is always overloaded, it seems.”