Keeping the intersection of Sardis and Ledan roads open during the day is going to cost Hall County an extra $50,000 and extend construction by 20 days.
A roundabout is in the works at the northwest Hall intersection, now a four-way stop that has been slowing school traffic and frustrating the community during peak hours.
Hall County revealed last week that the builder, E.R. Snell Contractor, was going to close the road to traffic from July 31 to mid-September or maybe even October.
But after the news broke, prompting public outrage that the intersection was going to close through the first month or more of school, the Hall County Board of Commissioners worked to change plans for the roadway.
With the longer work period, the project will finish in early October at the earliest.
The $379,916 project was awarded in May with the intention that work would begin as soon as the school year finished for Hall County Schools and finish before the 2017-18 school year, according to Hall County Public Works and Public Utilities Director Ken Rearden.
That didn’t happen, and commissioners argued during their Monday work session that utility companies slowed down the project.
“We as a commission really need help from our legislative delegation … they’ve got to do something about utilities in our right of ways, county right of ways, not getting moved,” Commissioner Scott Gibbs said. “If it was a (Georgia Department of Transportation) job, they’ll cut the cable. They have that authority,” Gibbs said. “If we cut the cable, we have to repair it.”
The county began working with utility companies with poles in the area in January to get them to relocate by the time the school year ended, according to a report from the Public Works Department, but there “was still a lapse of time in getting that work complete.”
Gibbs noted another road project that was delayed by utility pole relocation: improvement of the intersection of Jim Crow and McEver roads in Flowery Branch.
That delay ended up getting Rearden summoned for a dressing-down by the Flowery Branch City Council, which had waited for more than a year for improvements to the clogged intersection.
Anger over the Sardis-Ledan intersection ran just as high after the news broke on Wednesday, and by Thursday a deal had been worked out with E.R. Snell.
“If we had kept that thing closed for the next month, month-and-a-half, they’d have chewed us up and spit us out,” said Hall Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Higgins, prompting chuckles in the room. “Especially Billy (Powell), because it’s his district.”
The contractor will keep the road open during the day by employing traffic controllers, except for one or two weekends when the intersection will be closed all day.
During the week, lanes will only be closed between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. as needed.
By having crews work alongside traffic, E.R. Snell estimates the project will take an additional 20 days. The $50,000 change order will be a lump sum and is not refundable if the project is finished early.
Hall County commissioners signaled support for the change order on Monday by putting it on the consent calendar of their Thursday regular meeting, when commissioners will vote on the order.