At Thursday night’s Board of Commissioners meeting, the county received an update on a GDOT road project years in the making.
First broached in late 2013, the work would build two roundabouts on SR 92, one at its intersection with Antioch Road and the other Seay Road, would be largely funded by GDOT as part of a statewide review that identified intersections where a roundabout could improve both safety and efficiency. Public Works Director Phil Mallon noted that a traffic signal was not warranted in the area based on volume and future projections. Additionally, a traffic signal would come with a greater land impact than a roundabout.
Commissioner Randy Ognio, himself a member of the county’s transportation committee, questioned if those intersections should even be tackled before others that see more accidents per year.
“I have heartache over spending $5 million on a project at an intersection with this few accidents when we’ve got intersections on state routes that have 30 accidents a year,” said Ognio. “I’m kind of confused about why we’re spending this money. I know GDOT’s offered it up and they say if we don’t use it here, they’ll take it somewhere else, but we have intersections that desperately need GDOT money spent on them that are a lot more hazardous than this intersection.”
Design of the roundabouts is nearly finalized with a goal for GDOT to award the construction contract by the end of the fiscal year. Federal funding would foot the bill for roughly $8 million to cover both roundabouts. The county would only be responsible for lighting and landscaping, but the county’s water department would be left to pay for roughly $800,000 to move their water lines out of the right-of-way needed for the project.
That left a bitter taste for Commissioner Charles Rousseau, who cited recent denied requests for public water from communities on well water.
“The issue is that we’re going to spend $800,000 in money we said we didn’t necessarily have that we will not recoup any of it versus an opportunity to use that money to run water to those communities,” said Rousseau. “We’re talking about moving traffic versus people drinking healthy water. They don’t compare from where I sit.”
GDOT representatives did say the county could write a letter to the chief engineer on the project for help to defray the cost the water department would incur. Chairman Eric Maxwell requested that the talks be tabled to the first meeting in February to give time to make that request.