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Dawson County number one in district for teenage road fatalities
GDOT, public works talk roads at chamber luncheon
Roads update pic
Dawson County Public Works Director David McKee and Georgia Department of Transportation District Traffic Engineer Sue Anne Decker talk roads safety and county roads projects at an April 12 Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon. - photo by Allie Dean

At a recent Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, local roads officials brought attendees up to speed on county and state projects to help ease traffic, improve road conditions and reduce roads fatalities.

Sue Anne Decker, district traffic engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation Gainesville office, spoke about GDOT’s “Drive Alert Arrive Alive” campaign, which has recently been revamped as the number of fatalities on Georgia roads increased 32 percent over the past three years.

Decker said Dawson County is number one in GDOT’s 21-county District One for roads fatalities between the ages of 15 and 19.

“Here in Dawson County, you have a 30 percent chance of 15 to 19-year-olds being involved in a serious injury or fatal crash. And 30 percent is a number that we cannot live with,” Decker said.

Decker asked each person in the room to set an example for the teens in their lives by doing three things: Slow down, buckle up and put down their phones.

A recent release from Katie Strickland, communications officer for District One, states that of the 1,549 people who died on Georgia roads in 2017, over 1,000 of those could still be alive if the driver had chosen to drive alert, eliminate distractions, pay attention, drive at a safe speed and require everyone in the car to use a seat belt.

Other staggering statistics in the release show that in 2017, 44 percent of non-pedestrian fatalities were from single vehicle crashes, and that 55 percent of non-pedestrian fatalities were from drivers veering out of their lane.

GDOT has revamped its “Drive Alert Arrive Alive” initiative and is working in partnership with local schools in Dawson and Forsyth County (number two in the district for teen deaths) to spotlight the importance of driving alert.

Decker said she has also been in contact with Dawson County Public Works Director David McKee.

McKee also spoke at the April 12 luncheon and updated attendees on roads projects in the county for 2018 and beyond.

McKee said his job is to balance asset management as well as new developments.

“New development is a really hot topic right now, but I always preach to everybody that we can’t forget about what our current assets are, because we have 300 miles of roads,” McKee said.

McKee said that asphalt roads are supposed to be resurfaced every 12 years, but on average in Dawson County they are resurfaced every 22 years.   

The cost to resurface one square mile of road is $100,000, McKee said.

Funding sources include SPLOST, state funds, federal funds and the county’s general funds. The county is currently in SPLOST VI, and 67 percent of the projected $46 million is going to public works infrastructure.

With so much demand, but only so much in funds, the county must prioritize what roads get work, and when.

“I don’t have but nine biscuits, and I have to make those nine go as far as I can possibly make them go, so I want to know for darn sure what my assets are and where they are, and how they correlate, before I dump money into anything,” McKee said.

The county is currently performing a pavement assessment on all paved roads county-wide by utilizing a computer system to rank the roads on a scale of 0 to 100. McKee said the goal is to have all roads scoring at a 70 or above.

“That takes the politics out of it, when someone calls and asks when their road is going to get paved, (we tell them) ‘well your road scored a 78, and we’ve got all these other miles of roads that scored below that,’” McKee said.

Roads next on the list for resurfacing include nine roads spanning 3.07 miles, and will be paid for in part by a state Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant. The roads include A.T. Moore Road and Mt. Vernon Drive as well as the roads in the Biscayne subdivision.
The total budget for the project is a little over $500,000.

Also on the county’s radar are a new public works and maintenance facility, as well as work on the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Lumpkin Campground Road; a realignment of Shoal Creek Road and Hwy. 136; bridge design for the weight-restricted bridge on Shoal Creek; designing and constructing a new Black’s Mill Bridge; storm water culvert rehabilitation; improvements to the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Hugh Stowers Road; and restricted access at Kilough Church Road and Ga. 400 and at the Chick-fil-A and Ga. 400 (similar to work done at Beartooth Parkway, Industrial Park Road and Ga. 400).  

A double roundabout at Dawson Forest Road and Hwy. 9 has been fast-tracked, and work on the bridge on Hwy. 9 over the Etowah River is expected to last until September.