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A mudslide along the shoulder of Nick-A-Jack Road in Walker County, Ga., leading up Lookout Mountain is seen in this 2015 staff file photo.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield will reward a major paving contract Thursday night, though it's not clear how big the bill will be.

"You can't really put an exact price on that much road," Public Works Director Carlen Bowers said. "We do have some round numbers, but I can't say yet what we think it's going to be. ... But just looking at the figures I have, [the winner is] pretty obvious."

Whitfield requested bids in February for a company to pave 23 1/2 miles of road throughout the county. He received responses by last week's deadline from Bartow Paving Company, Northwest Georgia Paving Company and Talley Construction Company.

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Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield

By far, Bowers and county spokesman Joe Legge said, Talley Construction appears to have the cheapest bid. They don't have specific figures because the county requested prices per unit. For example, they asked for yellow and white line striping on the roads, based on a price the company will charge per mile.

The main reason? The county doesn't know how much deep patching it will need to do. Deep patching involves workers pouring binder or rock under the road.

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Workers will remove the top coat off the road and see what is underneath. If they find gravel or stone underneath, they can simply pour a new layer of asphalt on top. But if there is just dirt under the top coat, workers will need to dig a couple of feet out of the dirt and fill it in with something more solid. Bowers said this will keep the roads intact longer, which should save the county money in the long run.

The price for deep patching? Northwest Georgia Paving is the cheapest, with an offer of $121 per ton. Talley Construction was second at $135 a ton, and Bartow Paving was third at $173.52 per ton.

But Bowers said the county won't know exactly how much deep patching it needs until construction begins and workers look under the current road to see what's there.

The key expense? The top layer of asphalt, which Bowers expects will total about 30,000 tons. Tally Construction is the cheapest, offering paving at about $95 a ton. Bartow Paving is offering it at $157.79 a ton, and Northwest Georgia Paving is offering it at $164 a ton.

Put another way, Talley Construction's asphalt would cost about $2.9 million. Bartow Paving's asphalt would cost $4.7 million. And Northwest Georgia Paving's asphalt would cost about $4.9 million.

"I'm hoping that goes down," Bowers said of the estimate. "I'm hoping that I've got that estimated pretty high."

Last month, Legge said the county had about $2.5 million in its Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund, revenue from a 1 percent sales tax county residents approved in a November 2017 referendum. The county collects about $300,000 a month from the tax.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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Michael Giles, left, and Jacob Crawford prepare the unimproved Kittle Road for paving in this 2013 staff file photo.
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