February 13, 2017
There was a lot of time spent at last Monday night’s meeting discussing the round-a-bouts (RAB) that GDOT wants to install at Hwy 16 E and Hwy 380 and Hwy 83 N and the new extension of Hwy 380. In fact 25 minutes was spent with two BOC members asking questions and two others pushing the project if the questions were answered or not.
Does GDOT have the authority to coerce a county government into maintaining STATE right of ways by threatening to withdraw funding on a promised project?
Comm. Henry and Comm. Luke asked such questions and made comments such as:
- How much will it cost to mow, keep up any landscaping, and pay for the lighting the DOT requires at the RAB’s?
- We [Jasper County] do not have the resources or manpower to maintain the RAB’s the way DOT has presented.
- Why can’t we negotiate?
- We can not do this piecemeal. DOT says we have to do all—mowing and pay for cost of lighting and maintain lighting.
- We don’t currently maintain anything on State roads–why now?? It bothers me we have to maintain state ROW’s.
Other questions that were not asked:
- How will GDOT mow Hwy 380 and Hwy 16 and go past the round-a-bout and not mow it? How do they get around it to the other side and not mow around it? The same thing would be true at Hwy 380 and Hwy 83. Hwy 380, Hwy 16, and Hwy 83 are all STATE Highways.
- Since Hwy 380 will DEAD END into Hwy 83 N. How do you have a round-a-bout there?
- How many wrecks have been reported at the Hwy 36 and Hwy 212 RAB in Newton County since its installation? (Rumor is at least 11, but we could not get the actual information.)
- Did the GDOT really threaten to withdraw the project money for Hwy 380 extension or just for the RAB’s? This was not made clear.
NOTE: Jackson Lake Road and Post Road used to be State highways. These became county roads when the State promised Hwy 380 if the county would take over and maintain these two roads. Seems like the GDOT is breaking at least part of their agreement with the county.
Lots of questions, but no answers. Comm. Pennamon did all in his power to push the vote without having the questions answered, with Comm. Salmon helping him. Why the BOC could not table the vote, get the answers to the questions, and wait until the next meeting to make an informed decision is unknown. The 380 project has been on the table for 20 years, and will not be started until at least June 2018. For some reason this vote HAD to be made on Monday night, February 6.
Comm. Salmon asked Sheriff Pope if the inmates could/would maintain the RAB’s, and the Sheriff said yes. However, what happens if the inmates are not allowed to do that work in the future? We are talking about this BOC committing the county to do this work from now until eternity; not just for a few years.
Attorney David Ozburn informed the BOC that they could do a resolution stating they supported the 380 project and the RAB’s, while not agreeing to do the maintenance. He also stated that they would not know the answers to the questions they were asking if they did not ask. In response, Comm. Pennamon pushed harder to get the agreements approved that night.
Comm. Henry made a motion that the County Manager approach GDOT and let them know that the BOC was on board with RAB and the extension, but not on maintaining the RAB’s and being liable for the light bills. Comm. Luke 2nd the motion.
There were more questions about if lighting was required or not and if someone took out the light poles would insurance pay for it. Comm. Pennamon continued to push for approval and Comm. Luke caved. Luke asked Comm. Henry to modify his motion, and Henry refused. A new motion was made to approve the agreements for support of Hwy 380, to maintain the RAB’s, and to maintain (and pay for the monthly cost) the lighting, while asking the County Manager to check to see if insurance would cover the light poles. VOTE 3-1.
Good job, Comm. Henry! You stood your ground and would not vote unless the questions were answered first.
The cost of four (4) big stop signs or stop lights at the intersections would be significantly less than the cost of the RAB’s and the maintenance of them, even if the county maintained them!
Just a note: The State keeps taking more and more money from the counties –TAVT (tags) and fuel tax money– while now demanding the rural counties to do such things as maintain State right of ways. These are called State Mandates which cost local governments, and therefore property owners, lots of money.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.