Facing a potentially escalating price tag, the Fayette County Board of Commissioners switched their vote and will again openly cooperate with GDOT on a safety project to build two roundabouts on SR 92.
At the request of Commissioner Charles Rousseau, the BOC reconsidered their vote from the February 8 meeting where they voted against any work related to a pair of roundabouts on SR 92.
“I asked for this item to be brought back before this body for favorable consideration in light of the potential fiscal costs that might be incurred by the county if we didn’t take another route,” he said.
The county is set to be on the hook for the rising cost to move water lines out of the right of way (nearing $1 million), and commissioners hoped GDOT might listen and reconsider the need for the project at all. GDOT is planning to go forward in spite of a 4-1 BOC vote that night.
“My vote may lead to costing the county conceivably more. Without that (Memorandum of Understanding), GDOT will go out on their own and get a vendor without our input, and that fee could be substantially more than what we got it quoted,” said Rousseau.
At the Feb. 8 meeting, Public Works Director Phil Mallon cautioned that GDOT could choose to move forward at a cost significantly higher for Fayette, and that is what is at stake.
“The bottom line is this, it’s in GDOT’s right of way, and I knew that if they were going to continue with this project, that we would have to move them still, and we have gotten some additional assurances from GDOT since that time they are going to proceed with this project,” said Rousseau.
Commissioner Steve Brown wondered if other design options had been considered, but said he was willing to change his vote if GDOT was already locked in on their decision.
“If Mr. Mallon wants to assure me that GDOT, come hell or high water, is going to do this roundabout anyway and that there’s no sense in looking at other projects, then I’m willing to take a different view,” he said.
Mallon affirmed that it will be a roundabout, in spite of the letter sent by the county asking them to reconsider.
“I did talk to GDOT, and they are not changing it at this point,” he said, noting that they are about 95 percent complete with the design. “They are too far along in the process.”
Commissioner Charles Oddo was the lone dissenting vote at the Feb. 8 meeting (Chairman Eric Maxwell missed that night for medical reasons). He did not want to throw away the years of work on the project, and he expressed gratitude that GDOT has still not closed the door on cooperating with the county on it going forward.
“GDOT wants to work with us. They could have gone ahead after our last vote and said we’re just going to do it anyway, but they’re reaching out. They’re trying to work with us on this,” he said. “I appreciate that they’re continuing to work with us.”
Commissioner Randy Ognio stuck to his guns in again voting against the project, something he has done since the topic was first broached back in 2014.
“I thank GDOT for what they do for us, and I appreciate the funding they send us, but I didn’t believe in this project from the beginning, and I’m not going to change now,” he said.
The county’s transportation committee voted to recommend the BOC go ahead with working with GDOT on the project. The commissioners now agree, voting 4-1 to do so, Ognio the lone vote in opposition.