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Gainesville to DOT: Fix our roads
Mayors letter asks for extensive repairs on 3 state roads in city limits
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The city of Gainesville is sending a letter to the Georgia Department of Transportation to do something about the state roads in the city, such as this patched pothole on E.E. Butler Parkway. - photo by Tom Reed

Gainesville officials are asking the state Department of Transportation to take care of its own in the city limits.

In a letter to Steve Gooch, 9th District representative on the DOT board, Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner asked that state officials find funds to repair ragged state roads in the city.

The letter states that officials with the city’s Public Works Department have received an increased number of complaints about the condition of state routes in the city limits over the past several months.

The letter specifically mentions three state routes — Ga. 60, Ga. 369 and Ga. 53 — and says areas of those roads may require extensive repairs, many of which Gainesville’s Public Works Director David Dockery said are worse off after a bitter winter.

While there has been no formal response from the DOT, Dockery said city officials have noticed DOT employees patching some roads in the city limits this week.

Gooch said a number of state routes in the district “took a pretty bad beating” last winter.

“Some of them are coming all to pieces,” he said.

Gooch said there was a “limited amount of funds that could be spent in the 9th Congressional District” for road maintenance, although he could not cite a specific budget for road repairs in the 15-county district.

And while more local governments are calling on the DOT to take care of the state routes in their areas, the agency’s budget isn’t in good shape, either.

Revenues from federal and state motor fuel taxes, as well as revenues from a sales tax on fuel purchases — both of which pay for such repairs — have been on the decline for months, rising only slightly last month with higher gas prices, Gooch said.

In a March DOT forum, Gooch told local leaders that the DOT was in a revenue “meltdown.”

He said a lack of funding had kept a number of road projects in the area from moving forward.

State-funded resurfacing projects across the state have fallen behind. Some $1.1 billion in projects were identified in 2008-09 “that we have no funding for,” said Todd McDuffie, District 1 interim engineer, in a December interview with The Times.

And as the roads are allowed to continue to deteriorate without repair, repairs will eventually become more costly.

Bruner addressed the state agency’s funding issues in her letter.

“We understand the financial situation of the Department of Transportation,” she wrote. “However, the city’s concern is for the safety of our residents and the motorists that use state routes to travel through and around the city.”

City road crews have yet to identify what Dockery would call a safety concern or an “imminent threat to safety” on the three routes Bruner mentioned in the letter. Most issues on those routes, he said, are minor potholes and cracks.

“Obviously, we would do more than write a letter to our representative if we saw something of that nature,” Dockery said. “We’d get directly in touch with the local DOT office on an issue like that and talk to the engineer.”

McDuffie did not return a message Thursday from The Times. Instead, he send an e-mail statement saying the local DOT office has identified Ga. 369 from Jesse Jewell Parkway to Interstate 985 for a candidate for resurfacing. The e-mail said the DOT would address safety issues until the project could be bid out for more major repairs.

“Our maintenance crews are making minor repairs on the areas where rough pavement exists and we will be making more permanent repairs as the budget allows,” the statement read. “Hopefully, we will be able to make some repairs within the next few months.”

Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.

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