It is time for the adoption of the unit-road system in Angelina County, according to a bipartisan committee of 50 citizens and their many committed supporters throughout the county.

The unit-road system requires the commissioners’ court to create a County Road Department and employ a road engineer/supervisor to be the manager. As opposed to four independent precincts responsible for all matters related to county roads, they would be consolidated for single-source management. A county road engineer/supervisor is not an elected political position.

The biggest advantage of single-source management is prioritization of all countywide roads based on every need as opposed to the needs of individual precincts. This allows the County Road Department to develop short- and long-range road improvement plans countywide and focus tax dollars for long-term solutions as opposed to spending dollars on temporary fixes.

Further, single-source management greatly reduces duplication of road and machine equipment and workforce. Schedules can be completed in a timely manner simply because a consolidated workforce is far more efficient. A consolidated workforce, under single management provides greater control over response to countywide emergencies and catastrophic disasters.

Other benefits are countywide consistencies in personnel management, evaluations, training, operations and a fair and balanced representation.

Nacogdoches County has a successful unit-road system. While they have 100 more miles of rural road than Angelina County, they have only 72 pieces of equipment while Angelina County has 127.

Under the unit-road system, the road engineer or supervisor would determine what equipment is needed, assess all roads and bridges in the county, regardless of precinct, prioritize the need, and establish a budget and timeline for all repairs, maintenance and reconstruction. There would only be one road budget and not four as it is now.

In addition to taxpayer’s savings on equipment and personnel, there would no longer be a need for five fully equipped and staffed county barns. There would be a primary location from where employees and equipment would be dispatched; all purchasing would be performed by the new road department under sealed bids in accordance with the established budget adopted by the commissioners’ court. The road supervisor would report to the commissioners’ court on a bimonthly basis, the same as the county airport and the county landfill.

The County Road Department, under the direction of the unit-road supervisor, would be identical to the street department in Lufkin and most other cities. Many counties have adopted the unit-road system, including Nacogdoches and Smith (Tyler). They testify of its efficiency in saving money and better care of its roads.

County commissioners cannot adopt the unit-road system. It requires an election under Section 252.301 of the Texas Transportation Code. Commissioners can call an election, but if they refuse to do so, citizens can secure approximately 2,800 signatures of qualified voters in Angelina County and make them call the election, which would be held at the general election on Nov. 3.

As soon as the signatures are submitted to the commissioners’ court and the election is called, please be assured that all of the facts supporting the need for the unit-road system will be presented to all citizens. The existing four budgets will be analyzed and compared with a single road department budget through an independent feasibility study. It will not only address the budget, but evaluate the effect that a unitized and qualified management will have over the roads in our county.

Since the commissioners’ court refused to call the election, we have begun the process of preparing the forms for such a petition and will soon begin circulating it for signatures.

While we believe we have the support needed to be successful, we are inviting anyone who would like to help with this effort to let us know by contacting my office at 639-4466 or by email at bob@rlfloumoylaw.com.

Lufkin attorney Robert Flournoy can be reached at 639-4466.