SVEA — Some residents say Okaloosa County doesn't even address road concerns, but two Davis Road residents say the county doesn’t make proper repairs.
Davis Road, a dirt country lane, runs from State Road 85 north to the Alabama state line through the Svea community east of Laurel Hill. In dry weather, it's a drive through verdant farmland and beneath leafy shade trees. However, when it rains, Davis Road becomes a quagmire, resident Hazel Harper said.
"It's just a mess down here," she said. "Some of us have small cars. We're not all truck drivers."
Clay Simmons, Okaloosa County Public Works Roads Division manager, said plans are in place to return Davis to passable condition.
"When you got the kind of rainfall we've had of late, the routine problems have been amplified," he said.
Once washouts and standing water issues are addressed, the road will return to routine weekly grading maintenance, Simmons said.
However, Mike Harper, Hazel's son and neighbor, said the county doesn't do the maintenance correctly.
"When they grade the road, they just churn up the top layer of rocks," he said. "They don't lower the blade (of the grader) enough to grade the potholes down. When they grade, they don't do it properly."
Before grading, there was little standing water at the entrance of David Osborne's driveway and around his mailbox. Scraping soil from the side of the road created a depression that three days after recent rains was still a large puddle.
Farther south, runoff from recently logged property has started flooding the road, causing ruts and potholes as traffic passes, Hazel Harper said.
"It fills up so heavily with water that it runs across the road," she said.
The county is aware of the drainage problem and hopes to address it through regular weekly grading, Simmons said.
In addition, the county hopes to pave Davis Road next year, he said.
In the meantime, Harper said an ongoing problem is ballast the county scooped from an abandoned railroad bed in the 1990s to build up Davis Road.
Mixed in with rocks — some jagged enough to embed in vehicle tires — was metal debris including railroad spikes and pieces of hardware that fell off trains.
Although the county cleared much of the rocks and debris several years ago, ongoing maintenance and heavy rains reveal pockets of the sharp rocks and occasional pieces of metal.
Hazel Harper said the county has replaced five of her tires, though a request for reimbursement for a tire perforated by one of the sharp ballast rocks was denied.
"Every time I go into Strickland Tires, he laughs and says, 'They graded your road again, didn't they?'" Harper said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.