JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO – Jefferson County residents are having to maneuver their way around dozens of deep potholes on the main road in and out of their community near House Springs.
The road is called Ruth Drive, it`s a private road and authorities say it`s putting people`s safety at risk.
The road is off Highway MM and it is an obstacle course of potholes.
Everyday cars try to swerve around the potholes.
Pat Jennewein has lived on Ruth Drive for 44 years.
“The holes have gotten so bad that the entire road is covered. There`s no dodging them so you have to go slow. For those that don`t go slow they lose car parts,” said Pat about the road.
Pat`s neighbor, Karen Crum, added, “I don`t go out unless I have to. If I`m going to play golf I go out but that`s it. I mean it`s awful. It just tears your vehicles up.”
Ruth Drive is a private road nearly a mile long and not maintained by Jefferson County.
There are homes along the road and it empties into a mobile home park.
Pat is the president of the Ruth Drive Road Association.
That group asks for $60 a year from every homeowner for road repairs.
But Pat says very few people pay and there is not an official homeowners association.
Pat and her husband try to fill the potholes with gravel.
But those repairs are just temporary.
“Right now, we`re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have very little money on hand to do anything with. We have a road that is treacherous,” said Pat.
The potholes are a major concern for first responders in the area.
“When somebody isn`t breathing seconds count. So, if it takes us an additional five minutes to drive that course which is a good possibility with the conditions they are now, if not more, it could mean the difference between life and death,” said Mike Arnhart, the Chief of the Antonia Fire Protection District.
Gary Prasuhn, the Chief of the Big River Ambulance District, added, “It`s pretty much pothole after pothole. So, it takes, it takes our crews almost as long to get down Ruth Drive as it does to get to Ruth Drive.”
Pat tried to get the county to take over Ruth Drive last year through the Subdivision Street Acceptance Program.
That`s a Jefferson County program designed to get private roads taken over and maintained by the county.
But the roads have to meet minimum standards and Ruth Drive did not qualify, the report citing issues including major pavement deficiencies.
The Jefferson County Public Works Director, Jason Jonas, declined an on-camera interview.
But he told us on the phone that the report detailed ways in which Ruth Drive could be improved and become eligible for the program.
However, the upgrades could cost residents at least $250,000.
“It clearly is a problem,” said County Council member Jim Terry who represents the area.
After we brought up Ruth Drive to him, Terry started talks about possibly developing a limited maintenance agreement for certain private roads.
Terry`s idea is to potentially give some assistance to private roads like Ruth Drive that might not qualify for the Subdivision Street Acceptance Program but need improvements for public safety.
“I`m hoping we can come up with a plan to take care of, at least let emergency services have better access,” said Terry.
Pat explained, “The taxpaying citizens of Jefferson County, we deserve to be heard. We deserve a decent road to drive on.”
Terry tells us Jefferson County has over 1,000 miles of private roads.
So far, 28 miles have been approved by the county council for the Subdivision Street Acceptance Program.
The program has an annual budget of about $1.25 million.