Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Progress 2019 special section published Jan. 30. The e-edition can be accessed in its entirety here.
Roadwork continued to be a popular topic in 2018 with the completion of several intensive projects.
A roundabout funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation at the intersection of Hwy. 183 and Hwy. 53 was completed in the first half of 2018 while a new bridge on Hwy. 9 over the Etowah River opened to both lanes of traffic in October.
GDOT’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants, along with a 30 percent match by the county, provided for the repair and paving of nine county roads including A.T. Moore Road and Mt. Vernon Drive as well as the roads in the Biscayne Subdivision off Harmony Church Road.
GDOT continued work on a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy. 52 and Hwy. 183, which has a scheduled completion date of 2020, and also converted the passing lane on Hwy. 53 between Hugh Stowers Road and Buddy Burt Road to a turn-only lane mid-year, spurred by the death of a high school student early in the year.
In 2019, be on the lookout for many more roadwork projects funded by the county and GDOT.
Late last year Public Works Director David McKee applied for another round of LMIG projects.
Repairs proposed this year include the entire south side of Dawson Junction subdivision, including Conductor Drive, Dispatcher Drive, Boxcar Way East, Boxcar Way West, Caboose Lane, Flagman Street and Switchman Lane; the entire Amicalola Chase subdivision, which is located off Hwy. 136 and Crane Road; and a full-depth reclamation of Hightower Industrial Park, which is located on Hwy. 53 near the intersection with Lumpkin Campground Road and includes Easy Street and Hightower Parkway.
The full-depth reclamation will be similar to what was done on Dawson Forest, Thompson and Kelly Bridge roads in the past few years, and will be done by a contract company, according to McKee. County staff will do the paving on all of the projects, however.
“We are grateful to have a new paving machine from SPLOST funding that lets us have that cost savings by paving in-house,” he said.
The north side of Dawson Junction subdivision will not be included in the project this year because those roads are not in as bad a shape as the other side, McKee said. McKee utilizes a pavement assessment system similar to one he said GDOT has been using for years.
In 2018 McKee began performing the assessment on all paved roads in the county, utilizing a computer system to rank the roads on a scale of 0 to 100 with a goal of having all roads score at a 70 or above. This allows him to prioritize and budget for roads in most need of repair.
McKee said he will continue to re-evaluate the pavement assessment in 2019.
“Following that we will be able to make budget decisions, on whether to resurface, reclaim or repair roads and we’ve been very successful so far using that system,” he said.
With 300 miles of roads in the county and the cost of resurfacing one square mile of road amounting to $100,000, LMIG funding is just one way the county can stretch a dollar.
McKee said county crews will also work to convert Helens Drive off Kelly Bridge Road from a dirt road to an asphalt road this year, and will also being working on another round of stormwater culvert replacements in the area of Sweetwater Juno and Bailey Waters roads.
Also coming up in 2019, the county will be working on a bridge design for the bridge on Shoal Creek Road as well as working to redesign the intersection of Shoal Creek Road and Hwy. 136.
The county is also currently working to resolve an unintended consequence of the Continuous Flow Intersection that GDOT installed at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 a few years ago, as drivers often get stuck for several light cycles at the intersection of Lumpkin Campground Road and Hwy. 53 as they try to navigate around the Ga. 400 corridor.
The county started working with GDOT in 2018 to improve that corridor with the addition of two new turn lanes. Work continued this month as county staff poured curbing. The county is responsible for paving the updated intersection and GDOT is to re-time the traffic signals.
McKee said early January that the county does have a long-range concept plan for Lumpkin Campground Road, and that the first step has been to address the intersections at Grizzle Road and Hwy. 53. Updates to the intersection at Grizzle Road were more time sensitive, McKee said, and were completed first.
McKee said the county understands that the roadway is currently underserved and is working with GDOT to develop an access development plan to address the congestion issues.
The county is also currently working on a new bridge on Black’s Mill Road, which has been closed since July 2017.
Contractors are currently preparing the site to install the new steel bridge, which will still be one lane but widened by five feet and able to withstand the weight of emergency services vehicles and school buses, which the old bridge could not.
County crews will haul off any excess materials and will be responsible for resetting the road grades once the contractor is done.
Planning for new roundabouts will also continue in 2019.
GDOT has “fast-tracked” a double roundabout at Hwy. 9 and Dawson Forest, but construction has not yet begun. A roundabout at the other end of Dawson Forest at the intersection with Hwy. 53 and Thompson Creek Road has also been proposed by GDOT as a project, and McKee said he would be meeting with GDOT officials about the proposal in January.
“A roundabout fits in best and is least impactful in that area,” he said. “But it's in early stages. Something to keep in mind is that Dawson County takes over maintenance after the roundabouts are completed.”
Another big focus for GDOT in 2019 continues to be bridges. Work is forthcoming on the Cochran Creek bridge on Hwy. 183, where Keith Evans Road will be the main detour.
GDOT is also looking at working on two bridges on Price Road near Toto Creek Park.