ROSWELL, Ga. — The Oxbo Road realignment project, which is expected to resume construction in the next 30 days, will drive a new high price.
The Roswell City Council agreed to spend an additional $3 million on the project at its April 11 meeting, hoping to complete the work by the end of 2023.
The additional funding includes a general right-of-way agreement for $270,000, as well as a change order with ER Snell Contractor Inc. for $2,730,000, which will be funded by TSPLOST 1 – local option sales tax at special purpose for transportation approved by voters in 2016.
In November 2021, the City Council postponed vote on contract with ER Snell for a fraction of that amount, $616,802, saying city staff needed more time to determine which properties the city had control over and were willing to work on.
Now, with the additional payment, the total cost of the project will soar to $18.4 million, more than double the initial estimate of $7 million in 2016.
The new contractor payment includes a $100,000 incentive to complete the project by October 2023, and a penalty if not.
The project, proposed more than a decade ago, aimed to address a host of safety and mobility issues by eliminating the staggered intersection at Ga. 9 and converting the portion of Oxbo Road near Mimosa Boulevard to a street double meaning.
He also called for new turning lanes and a traffic light on Ga. 9 and Oxbo Road, among other improvements. When completed, it is expected to connect to the Roswell Historic Gateway, another planned transportation project, which will run along Atlanta Street.
The Oxbo Road project was expected to be completed by July 2021. However, Acting Director of Transportation Dan Skalsky said the project has been delayed due to property and utility acquisition issues and the slow construction. He said the city needed to acquire 25 plots for the project.
An independent investigation by the law firm Jarrard & Davis last year also concluded that extreme mismanagement by city staff and the city attorney resulted in significant delays and millions of dollars in cash settlements.
Roswell discusses the fallout from the Oxbo Road investigation
A settlement was reached with the owners of Roswell Hardware Company in February 2021 for the temporary use of a property on South Atlanta Street and Oxbo Road. The city agreed to pay the White family $2.5 million after failing to provide them with a ready relocation site for their hardware store by the Oct. 25, 2020, deadline.
The city bought the property from the White family for $3 million in 2017 because it included the right-of-way needed for the project. The investigation then revealed that the property had not been properly appraised according to state law before the city began negotiations, which has happened several times in the history of the project. .
Skalsky said construction on the Oxbo Road project halted in 2021, with just 33% completion.
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He said the city had three options moving forward. He could either complete the project as soon as possible, modify the design or stop the project. But, Skalsky said, because it’s funded by TSPLOST, state law requires the city to complete the project as planned.
Skalsky said he doesn’t believe it’s in the city’s interest to change the project because it’s already spent “a good bit of money” and doesn’t have an active designer on the project. project. He explained that the design was mostly done by city staff.
“It’s just not our best opportunity to influence the cost or direction of the project without incurring additional risk,” Skalsky said. “Once we’re under construction – this is just something I’d like everyone to keep in mind – it’s extremely important to keep this contractor moving, otherwise we will increase our current exposure to risk.”
Still, Skalsky said, significant traffic improvements have been added to the project to appease residents who have spoken out over the years about potential issues they foresee, such as reduced lane widths along Oxbo Road. , the textured pavement of Mimosa Boulevard at Ga. 9, median islands at Pleasant Hill Street and Oxbo Road, expanded landscape buffer and textured crosswalks at Oxbo Road.
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After Skalsky’s presentation, resident Frederic Guyonneau asked what was going to be done to hold those responsible for the mistakes of the project accountable now that taxpayers were paying the price. He also demanded to know who was actually benefiting from the extra roads and demanded that something be done to fix Atlanta Street, which has deteriorated since construction of the Oxbo Road project began.
Another resident, George Vail, remained adamant that the project was never a “Roswell project” to begin with, but a way to move commuters from East Cobb to Ga. 400 and back.
Resident Denise Hannahan described the project as a war zone.
“We’ve been dealing with the Department of Transportation since the beginning of this project, and right now we’re still living in a war zone,” Hannahan said. “I mean, it’s just a mess over there…. I think this whole project needs to be re-addressed and re-thought because as it is, that’s not what people want. It’s a parody.
Councilor Christine Hall presented the motion to approve the funds, which was seconded by Councilor Peter Vanstrom. It went 4-0 with advisers Marcelo Zapata and Mike Palermo absent.
The move is part of the city’s “Oxbo Action Plan,” which aims to address the issues outlined in the Jarrard & Davis inquest report.