Courtyard by Marriott expenses also receive unanimous approval

Douthit Ferry Road widening talks highlight Cartersville council meeting

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Thursday’s Cartersville City Council meeting began with discussion of a transportation project that — to put it mildly — has hit a few snags over the years.

Council voted unanimously to approve a change order for the Douthit Ferry Road widening project at the request of environmental sub-consultant Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc. The amount of the change order is not to exceed $92,095.29.

City of Cartersville Public Works Director Tommy Sanders said the change order was needed to reflect a Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) template revision from last month.

Under a project framework agreement with GDOT, construction costs of the project will be paid through state and federal funds, while local funds are to be used for preliminary engineering. Following the change order, City of Cartersville documents indicate the preliminary engineering activities fund balance is about $300,000.

Per GDOT documents, the project would include 2.48 miles of Douthit Ferry Road improvements, expanding the roadway from two 12-foot lanes to two 12-foot outside lanes and two 11-foot inside lanes with a 20-foot raised median and 12-foot urban shoulders extending from Old Alabama Road to Old Mill Road.

GDOT documents show the project starting at Old Alabama Road and terminating around Highway 61/Highway 113; documentation also calls for the addition of two 12-foot outside lanes and two 11-foot inside lanes with a 14-foot flush median from Old Mill Road to 61/113.

Cost estimates from 2016 tab the projected costs of construction at $15.4 million, with anticipated preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition costs bringing the total estimated price tag of the project to north of $20 million. 

Meanwhile, Cartersville-Bartow Metropolitan Planning Organization Long-Range Transportation Plan documents from 2016 tabbed the estimated total cost of the project at $22.3 million, with $3.8 million projected for local right of way costs and $989,019 projected for local utilities costs.

“As far as the plan development process, we’re only about a quarter of the way through,” Sanders said. “It’s a very, very complex process.”

One of the reasons why the process is taking so long, Sanders said, is the roadway’s proximity to the Etowah Indian Mounds. 

“Now our project is special because of the archeological,” he said. “Our environmental project manager with GDOT has told us even State-sponsored projects that are this rich in archeology sometimes take 15-20 years to go through the plan development process.”

Among other checkpoints, the project has to go through an “avoidance, minimization and mitigation process” and would involve consultation with Native American tribes. 

“The chiefs change and the environmental project managers change and then you’ve got the templates changed,” Sanders said. “It’s a long process.”

Indeed, Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini described that process as being “rather arduous.”

“This is a project the City has been working on for a while, and a lot of times you lose sight of how involved it is in dealing with state and federal funding,” he said. “It’s not that the City’s not doing any work, it’s just that that kind of work takes an awful lot of time.”

The council also voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a $25,696 replacement transformer from Gresco for use at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in construction near the Clarence Brown Conference Center, as well as an electric department request for $18,668 to purchase outdoor lighting and poles through Irby Co. for use at the same hotel.

According to City documents, the customer has already paid $6,000 to purchase equipment, leaving the City with a net expense balance of $12,668.

Other items of note from Thursday’s council meeting include:

— The council unanimously approved an administration request to pay Affordable Remodeling and Roofing $16,610 to replace the roof and remove two chimneys at the Downtown Development Authority train depot. The council selected that contractor over a bid from Mr. Roofer of Atlanta, which was tabbed at $14,484 and only included roof replacement services.

— The council unanimously approved an administration request to pay an $8,233.65 Traveler’s Insurance deductible.

— The council unanimously approved an administration request to select Watkins Insurance/APEX Insurance for property and casualty insurance broker services.