Some Georgians Call GDOT’s Lack of Road Maintenance a Disgrace

There is a very interesting article in today’s Marietta Daily Journal Online that has many Georgia citizens calling the Georgia Department of Transportation’s lack of road maintenance, including the right of ways next to state roads, a disgrace. Many may not even realize the impact on driver safety the DOT’s failure to meet their duty of road maintenance may have.

Budget crunch forces GDOT to cut back on road maintenance
by Kathryn Dobies
kdobies@mdjonline.com
July 19, 2010 12:00 AM | 956 views | 6 | 5 | |
Weeds stand tall beside Macland Road in West Cobb on Sunday. The budget crunch has forced the Georgia Department of Transportation to cut back on their highway cleanup efforts.
slideshow COBB – Budget cuts have reduced the fight against what one Cobb resident calls an epidemic of debris – trash and weeds along many state routes and highways throughout Cobb.

D.F. Lane, 73, has lived in Powder Springs for six years and thinks the abundance of litter and overgrown grass along the highways in Cobb has become an embarrassment to the county. He is leading a charge in his retirement community of MacLand Square to get the Georgia Department of Transportation to address the problem.

“We need to get some immediate action on a very embarrassing problem,” Lane said. “We’re talking about weeds on the middle of some major highways … I think it’s a prelude to a larger issue.”

In a letter to the Journal dated July 9, Lane explained further: “Viewing these scenes, would you invest in a new business in this setting of weeds and littered highways? … I still believe a vast majority of the citizens are willing to pay a half-penny or more for highway maintenance.”

Lane took pictures of weeds at the intersection of State Routes 360 at 176 in Powder Springs, SR 360 at Highway 120 in Marietta, and along SR 5 near Barrett Parkway, and sent them to Georgia DOT in mid-June.

Georgia DOT spokesman Mark McKinnon said Friday that crews used to clean up the state highways four times a year, but with budget cuts beginning last year the DOT has lost both manpower and money, and now mows the highways once a fiscal year, which begins July 1. Most of Cobb’s highways, McKinnon explained, haven’t been mowed or cleaned since last spring.

Lane said GDOT engineer Thomas Mims told him funds and equipment to clean up the roads are limited and that the highways in Cobb are on a list to be cleaned up this summer.

McKinnon said crews have already started working on Cobb’s highways, an effort that takes about three to four months to complete. He said the highways should be finished by the end of August, although he could not provide a specific date, because he said crews are given a list of roads to clean and simply work their way down the list.

Lane acknowledged Friday that a lot of weeds had been cut at select intersections, but he believes that a quick cleanup effort is not enough to turn around the streets of Cobb. Instead, Lane thinks more citizens need to take action and contact GDOT to urge them to take better care of the streets. He said the state transportation department has training for residents interested in helping to clean up the highways, something he has also done.

“We need someone to say that problem is petty, it’s embarrassing and it shouldn’t exist,” Lane said.

McKinnon said weeds are a never-ending problem, but littering is preventable. He said litter pickup costs the state DOT $14 million each year. The department uses its own manpower to clean up the litter, but generally contracts out for mowing.

“That’s really money that shouldn’t have to be spent,” he said. “If people wouldn’t throw things out of their vehicles and just find a trash can for them, then we wouldn’t have to spend that money, because it is taxpayer money. That’s an expense that’s preventable.”

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Budget crunch forces GDOT to cut back on road maintenance