Published on July 22nd, 2015 |0
CID may ante up more in future to avoid fed delays on road projects
During the CID’s July 13 meeting, at which Georgia Department of Transportation District 7 chief engineer Kathy Zahul was a speaker, the CID board members learned that both the Piedmont at Habersham turn lane project and Peachtree Road Transformation Project Phase 3 could have likely been completed by now if federal funds had not been involved.
“If we could have done the Habersham/Piedmont project without federal funds, it could have been done a lot faster,” Zahul told the CID board. GDOT ended up spending $200,000 on design and environmental impact studies to meet federal requirements on a projects with a total cost of $446,000.
Zahul reported that the holdup on the CID’s project on Piedmont at Habersham has been the relocation of a water main. “The city was going to pay the contractor directly but found out last summer that was not possible under the contract terms,” she said.
Zahul said the contractor got 20 percent of the work done before a dispute arose over the utility relocation and they could not move forward.
The city was to have approved the contract payment on July 20 and GDOT was to have it in hand by Aug. 10, she said, allowing it to be turned over to the contractor in September. “Our goal is to have the project completed by Thanksgiving,” Zahul added.
After years of studies and planning, Phase 3 of the Peachtree Road Transformation Project is now at the stage of hiring a right-of-way consultant to deal with six property owners involved in the one-block segment between Maple Drive and Shadowlawn Avenue.
The board heard that the big concern at this point is utilities—how much of the utilities are underground and may be impacted by the design and construction.
The Habersham/Piedmont road project, as well as Peachtree Road Transformation Project Phases 3 and 4, are GDOT projects because they involve state roads. However, Phase 4 of the Peachtree Road Project does not involve federal funds, only GDOT and CID funds.
CID board vice chairman John Lundeen said at the July 13 meeting he would have been happy for the CID to have made more of a financial commitment to move the Piedmont/Habersham project forward more quickly. Some say this project has been on the books for 10 years.
Board chairman David Allman echoed the sentiment saying, “If the CID could have stepped up and put more money into the project it could have been de-federalized.”
The CID’s Director of Transportation and Planning, Brian McHugh, told the board, “Where there once was federal funding for these projects, it is not there now.”
Both Lundeen and Allman agreed that the CID needs more discussion of that possibility (the CID increasing its level of funding) moving forward. They said the CID needs to be able to whether the timing of getting these projects done is critical enough to warrant greater financing.
One thing for sure, the CID does have enough funds in its account that it could have easily replaced the federal funds on both the Piedmont/Habersham and Peachtree Road Phase 3 projects.
As for Phase 4 of the Peachtree Road, which has been back in GDOT’s hands for restudying and redesign since last December, Zahut told the board there has been an evaluation of several alternatives over that time. She said the speaker at the August CID meeting would further explain that.
“When we have a consensus of all the Peachtree Road Task Force stakeholders, we will need 45-60 days to advertise a public meeting and then take it to the public in late September or October,” Zahut explained. “We hopefully can then have a final plan by November.”
McHugh said the CID is to have a meeting with GDOT on July 28 about the Phase 4 plans. He said he is not sure which way GDOT is leaning now but that they are looking at different cross-sections for south of Peachtree Battle than north of that area.
Regarding two other CID road projects McHugh said stakeholders involved with the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard just off Peachtree were show three alternatives by the consultants hired by the CID.
Of the three alternatives, everyone agreed that the option involving a roundabout was the most favored and that concept is being advanced for another meeting with stakeholders on July 29.
In regards to the proposed changes to West Paces Ferry west of Peachtree Road, McHugh said the contractor is scheduled to start in August to put in the refuge island and pedestrian crossing light in the roadway in front of the Whole Foods Market, both of which are being paid for by the CID.