Bayou George Residents Discuss Dirt Road Dangers and Concerns - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Bayou George Residents Discuss Dirt Road Dangers and Concerns

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It was standing room only in Bayou George as residents came out in full force to discuss the issues on some privately owned dirt roads. Bay County Commissioner Guy Tunnell was there to hear their concerns, but said the county's hands are tied.

Bay County has received more than two feet of rain since the beginning of July, and residents said all of that water and other issues are making the dirt roads they live on impassable.

"We're out there. We live there. We're going to stay there. We just want to be able to get out and go to work," said Jody Ward of Bayou George.

"I live on the same kind of road she lives on. I live on a private road, and I and my neighbors maintain that road," said Commissioner Guy Tunnell while addressing the packed house.

One by one, sometimes even yelling over one another, residents were eager to discuss the poor conditions of the private dirt roads they live off of.

Some said they have to send their children down the road to catch a bus. Others can barely access their homes.

One resident said the issue is like beating a dead horse.

However, Commissioner Tunnell and other county officials presented a few solutions. 

If the land owners of these private roads are willing to hand over the land, property owners along the roads can look at several options.

If 60% of the property owners along the road agree to the project, the county will pave the road and give the residents 10 years to pay their portion, which is based on frontage. The county then owns the roads and is responsible for ongoing maintenance.

Residents could also agree to simply maintain the dirt roads at required standards. It would be a little cheaper for the property owner but may be a recurring cost.

Since many of the roads are owned by Gabe Stewart, III, of Panama Pines Incorporated, he and any other owners would need to sign over the land.

"We're here to try and help them. I think we made that clear, but there are some things they're going to have to do. They're going to have to form a group that could take possession of the property," said Commissioner Tunnell.

County officials said even if the majority of residents on each road came to an agreement tomorrow, it would take years to improve every road.

News 13 has been following this issue for two weeks. Check out these concerns we looked into last week, including Private Road Issues and School Bus Issues.

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