Pictured: County Road 144 is just one area in the county closed due to road deterioration from excessive rain. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Wet weather has led to an emergency situation

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Road closures in all four Jim Wells County precincts occurred this weekend due to flooding from near record amounts of rain that hit the area during the month of July.

Nearly 18 inches of rain have fallen over Jim Wells County this month.

Jim Wells County Commissioners say the road and bridge funding used for care and maintenance of the county roads is being stretched thin due to wet conditions, and there are several roads in the county they say they are in danger of losing to poor road conditions and lack of funds.

"When we do hit budget season, we need to talk about county roads," Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez said. "June and July have been exceptionally wet months, and these 'mudders' continue to destroy county roads."

"Mudding" by young drivers after wet weather is just one reason for the deterioration of county roads that commissioners brought up.

Another is the wet weather itself, which often washes away caliche and other road deposits the commissioners use to continue maintenance on county roads.

Sanchez said after last week's rains, the county caliche pit looks more like a lake, and with only four dump trucks, it is difficult to reach all areas in the county in a timely manner.

Commissioner Oswald Alanis shared Sanchez's concerns.

"We have a big problem with our roads because of all this excess rain, it's killing us," Alanis said.

He has received calls from several in his precinct concerning the county road conditions over the last few weeks. But Alanis said that when it rains, the water has to go somewhere.

"You can't just dig a deeper ditch," Alanis said, concerning the drainage areas alongside the roadways, which cannot be made too deep off the sides of the county roads.

"I have roads that if I don't attend to them, I'm going to lose them," Alanis said.

Sanchez said this is an emergency situation for the county and money is an issue.

In the past, commissioners have discussed increasing the percentage given to the road and bridge fund from the county taxes collected, in order to address the increasing wear and tear on the infrastructure.

Commissioners said Friday road maintenance and road and bridge funding will be a big issue during budget discussions later this year.