A concrete truck and tractor-trailer take the Liberty Expressway exit ramp to South Jefferson Street. The intersection, which local and state officials say is dangerous, will be improved, with work likely to start taking place in 2013. (Nov. 26, 2012)
ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County commissioners started discussions Monday on a project that could have a major impact on the safety of drivers in the county.
The commission discussed, and is expected to approve at its regular meeting next week, a request from the Georgia Department of Transportation to sell the department 0.166 acres of county property in the right-of-way at the North Jefferson Street/Philema Road intersection. The land is needed for the design and construction of new on and off ramps onto the Liberty Expressway.
"This is the most dangerous intersection in Dougherty County," Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said of the current Jefferson/Liberty Expressway interchange. "It's a miracle we haven't had a tremendous number of wrecks there. I think it's critical that we have this done."
The small triangle of county property at Jefferson and Philema would be sold to DOT at a fair-market-value price of $33,200 and incorporated into a redesign and construction of the ramps. The state-funded project is expected to cost $11 million, with $1 million in design funding and another $3 million utilized for right-of-way acquisition.
State Transportation officials said a number of factors went into the decision to move forward with the project.
"The DOT is part of the state's MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations), and that project was part of your local MPO's (DARTS: Dougherty Area Regional Transportation Study) Long-Range Transportation Plan," DOT District Pre-Construction Engineer Brent Thomas said Monday morning. "Each project in the (LRTP) is looked at carefully as the state determines the best use of federal funds it receives.
"Everything about that project has been looked at — traffic, congestion, cost. It's expected to be let for bids this year and, once a bid has been accepted and contracts are signed, a completion date will be set."
Dougherty Administrator Richard Crowdis said the state was aware of the dangers surrounding the Jefferson/Liberty Bypass interchange.
"That's a state highway and they keep up with any problems that might exist on their roads," Crowdis said. "(The project) is part of the DARTS-approved list, so the state knows of the regional concerns."
Also at the Monday-morning meeting, the commission discussed Reeves Construction Co.'s low bid of $404,131.61 for the county's 2012 street resurfacing program and OK'd Custom Truck and Body Works of Woodbury's low bid of $214,430.60 for the purchase of two new ambulances for Emergency Medical Services.
Both projects will be funded utilizing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VI funds.
"Let me just say, I don't know where we'd be in Dougherty County without SPLOST," Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said. "That's almost $700,000 in funding that we needed."
Crowdis told the commission he'd prepare an update on SPLOST tax collections at a future meeting.