CHESTER -- Chester County's most flood prone road landed Monday night where county leaders assumed it had been for years -- in the county's road system.
Raxter Road, a dead-end path in the Richburg area that floods several times each year, has been a hot topic in recent years. County leaders have sought money to alleviate the water woes of the gravel road that runs across Tinker Creek.
Just last month, an engineering firm recommended building a 130-foot bridge over the creek, a more efficient option than creating four large culverts to move water when the creek swells.
By that point, officials had already accepted a grant for the Raxter project. They assumed the road was in the county system, though they have not been able to find an actual record of the council voting to adopt it.
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The county can't spend money on a private road, county attorney Joanie Winters said. However, Winters said numerous documents list the road as part of the county system.
During a transportation committee meeting Monday night, County Councilman Archie Lucas worried about the lack of a recorded vote hindering the county's ability to get more grants for fixing the flood problems.
"I just want to keep our nose clean," he said.
Raxter Road's water woes have persisted for years. Tinker Creek's waters are funneled under the road through a drain pipe. But the pipe is too small to handle the amount of water that typically comes during a downpour. The flooding affects about 10 families.
In emergency situations, fire and rescue workers have driven people across the flooded road in a firetruck made from a military surplus vehicle.
In May, county leaders accepted a grant package worth $137,000 to develop a plan for easing the flooding problems, but that money did not include construction costs. Construction expenses are estimated at $736,000. Work cannot be done until money is in place.
The next step will be designing the bridge and getting proper federal permits. Because the county already has received some grant money for the first part, officials are confident they can find cash for the next phase.
Although the road was initially a private developer's issue, Chester County Emergency Management Director Eddie Murphy has said the county took responsibility for the road around 2000.
Murphy said he knows because he recalls County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey wasn't in power when the decision was made. Roddey lost the supervisor's post in 1998 to Johnny Weir, who served through 2002.
But while doing research for the grant process, Murphy said he checked with the tax assessor's office and saw a document that showed the road was in the county system.
"That part, I had to have right or I'd be wasting my time," he said. "If it's on the books, it's on the books."
Winters said an exhaustive search would likely turn up the voting record. But, she said: "By the time we find it, they'll have another flood."