Recent rains that dumped as much as four inches on parts of Palm Beach County dealt an expected blow to roads in Loxahatchee Groves that are in bad need of improvements, but the Indian Trail Improvement District has been keeping up with maintenance schedules and fared much better.
Loxahatchee Groves Public Works Director Larry Peters said the 40 miles of dirt roads were not in very good condition before the rain.
“They’re in deplorable condition,” Peters told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “Let’s be realistic, right now it’s bad. However, we’re going to make it better. With the previous council, they got us a grader and they got us a new tractor, and we’ve got some very excellent, knowledgeable employees. We’re beginning to put down some base rock, and things are better. Even with all these rains we’ve had, where we’ve been able to repair the roads and put in base rock, it wasn’t quite as bad as where we have not been able to put in base rock.”
He said the key to all good roads, whether dirt or paved, is good drainage.
“We’re working on that,” Peters said. “The town is making a lot of progress.”
Peters said there have been significant improvements on Collecting Canal Road, where the town is putting in drainage and swales to drain the water off the dirt roads and filter the stormwater through the swales. The town is also putting in stakes so motorists cannot drive on the swales.
“Circumstances here have changed a bit,” Peters said. “Right now is the heavy season with respect to traffic… and we’ve got some circumstances starting the wet season, but everything’s positive as far as I’m concerned. We’re making progress.”
Peters stressed that where road improvements have already been made, they are standing up well to the water.
“There’s a lot of outside traffic coming through this town,” he said. “That’s a big issue. The heavy trucks and the speeding cause the wash-boarding, but those are problems we have to deal with. We’re here to do our job, and if they permit us, we will do it very well.”
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb agreed that where road rock is going down, the roads are working satisfactorily.
“Where that’s not happening yet, there’s big puddles and rain issues exacerbating the situation,” Titcomb said. “There’s large areas that have been scraped down deeper than they should have been. You have thin layers of base rock and sugar sand.”
ITID’s Greg Shafer said that his district is currently running at where it wants to be at water control levels, and the dirt roads are being worked on.
“Prior to this event, we lowered our water about three quarters of a foot to accommodate for the forecasted event,” Shafer said, adding that The Acreage did not receive the amount of rain forecasted. “We probably got about two inches total. We had about two days of nothing but misty rain. We had some showers.”
Shafer added that ITID will have staff grading the roads over the weekend after the roads dry out.
ITID’s Jason Lester said the steady rains are hard to deal with because the dirt roads become saturated.
“You cannot grade mud, but what we have been doing is spreading some rock where we can to try to stabilize some of these roads,” he said. “But we have 400 miles of dirt roads out here in The Acreage, so we have to wait for most of these roads to dry out.”