MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) answered questions from the Baldwin County Commissioners during Tuesday's regular board meeting about differences between the county and GDOT road systems.
Bryan Haines did his best to explain the interdependence concerning traffic signals, speed limits, maintenance and signage.
Commissioner Sammy Hall, District 3, made light of the relationship.
“It's the county's road up until we want to do something to it,” Hall said. “They tell us what to put up, and we pay for it.”
• No surprise funding is down
The level of GDOT service operations continues dropping for most Georgia cities and counties.
Haines said the department is cutting back on mowing.
“A lot of the cities and counties are actually approaching GDOT now with entering into a maintenance agreement with the department, and the department is paying some of the local governments to do what we consider minor maintenance on state routes,” he said Tuesday. “The city or county could either do it with their own resources or farm it out to a private contractor in order to increase that level of service.”
Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland, District 5, asked about the GDOT contract with Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) for roadway work.
“We pay 51 inmate crews for various roadway activities,” Haines said. “You typically have one inmate crew per four to five counties. We barely afford to do that. That's another cutting item we are scrutinizing as we speak.”
Typically, the crews respond to sight distance complaints and cutting curves, but they can't handle the state demand.
• New traffic signals
“It's a logical process,” the GDOT rep said. “Emotion is not part of it.”
GDOT looks at statewide accidents and fatalities when considering this action.
Cities and counties must help if they are concerned. Haines said local governments could pay for a traffic study to send the department.
Those can be upward of $10,000 just for the initial study.
“It may be that you've spent that money on the study, and the answer is there is no traffic signal warranted at that location,” he said.
A basic signal design costs between $100,000 and $150,000 once permitted.
County roads don't require GDOT oversight for traffic signals.
Westmoreland questioned Haines about a signal rumor at the Longhorn Steakhouse entrance off U.S. Highway 441.
“When Longhorn went in, they thought that was part of the deal to get a signal light put there,” Westmoreland said.
Haines corrected the rumor.
“At GDOT we don't make deals. It's either a go or a no,” he said. “It's my understanding there is a property owner that's not going to cooperate with the city, county or GDOT. We are not going to entertain fighting with a property owner.”
• Speed limit signs
Commissioner Emily Davis, District 1, said there is an issue with Black Springs Road's speed limit going up. GDOT controls the numbers.
“The residents were really upset that they raised the speed limit,” Davis said.
GDOT must OK all radar permits for law enforcement. The department works with the Georgia State Patrol creating final documents for county sheriff and the Milledgeville Police Department.
“We do an engineering analysis on a particular route and decide based on a lot of criteria what that speed limit should be,” Haines said.
Commissioners have an upcoming meeting with GDOT to continue the dialogue.