Mud Swamp preps for county deeding

Sep. 6—VALDOSTA — Residents of Mud Swamp Road and Swamp Edge Drive are starting the process to deed the roads over to Lowndes County.

In late August, Lowndes County commissioners approved a resolution regarding dedications of private roads to become county roads for Mud Swamp Road and Swamp Edge Drive.

The two roads are private, dirt roads not on the county's road inventory and therefore lack maintenance from the county.

This status led to a variety of issues that have increased during a period of a little more than 20 years, according to Aletha Bryan, a resident who's lived on the road during that time.

This road has always been in terrible shape, she said.

"My mom (and other residents at the time) kept the road bladed with tractors," Bryan said. "As time went on, people started contributing dirt and trying to help maintain it, but we don't have the equipment."

And neither did they have the ability to keep up the road in any kind of passable condition. Flooding has occurred many times during the two decades Bryan has lived there.

"I've picked up mothers walking their children through waist-deep swamp water with a stick to fend off (water) moccasins," she said. "I carried them through it because how else are you going to get out and (the children) have to go to school."

Other issues include the road being completely impassable for weeks throughout the year, so much so that residents park their cars on Indian Ford Road and walk to their homes from there.

One resident even leaves a rowboat in a nearby ditch, so when the road floods, it's easier to get to the car.

Earl Simmons said it's about 1.1 miles to the end of the road where residents from 11 out of 13 households had to walk through water almost waist-deep for a month.

Residents tired of the situation created a stopgap measure during the weekend prior to the Lowndes County Commission meeting. Simmons explained how they did it.

"We spent about 30 hours tweaking the structure of that road with the existing mess that was there to have a path," he said.

They used tractors and other agricultural equipment to "build their own road." It's passable as of now but there are holes in the road still apparent and areas where the road is soft.

Ash Croft, another resident on the road, said they used the nearby wet dirt to pile on top and dry it. The stability of that stopgap is up to the weather as rains have continued off and on throughout the late summer weeks.

It's too early to tell how the weather will be in September, but the fall is known for heavy rains and the Atlantic hurricane season runs until Nov. 30.

"Who knows what's coming with this pattern of weather," Croft said. "It's tough to keep (the road) up ourselves and that's the whole point of why we came to try and get the county's (help)."

In the past, the muddiness of the road has gotten emergency vehicles stuck and made it hard for tow trucks to pass through to help.

The county's hands were tied in past instances as it's illegal for it to do public work on private property. The residents are thankful the process has started to get county help.

On Aug. 21, a civil engineer and county staff evaluated Mud Swamp Road, but the process is not complete.

County engineering and public works are working together to find measures to create a more permanent stopgap measure against the heavy rains in the area until the road is deeded.

There is also no timeline on when quitclaim deeds will be prepared and signed as the county is not far enough in the process, according to county officials on Sept. 3.

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