Oconee County Commissioners tentatively agreed on Tuesday night to pay the $10,000 bill for the design work ordered up by Chairman Melvin Davis without Commission approval last year to connect Old Mars Hill Road with Mars Hill Road.
The Commission ultimately rejected Davis’ plans, but not before county Public Works Director Emil Beshara had requested that Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. alter the design for the roadway.
Davis pressured Beshara and county Administrative Officer Jeff Benko to order the changes in the roadway, saying it was in response to a request by the late Perry Aycock, who owned land on Old Mars Hill Road. At least one other land owner would have benefitted from the change.
The commissioners agreed at the meeting on Tuesday to put payment of a $44,550 change order for Moreland Altobelli on the consent agenda for final action on July 5. Included in that amount is the nearly $10,000 for the rejected Old Mars Hill Road plans.
The action by the BOC on the bill for the Old Mars Hill Road redesign work was part of a busy agenda that included approval of another change order with Moreland Altobelli for additional right of way appraisals for continued work on the Mars Hill Road widening project.
|Mars Hill Road/Virgil Langford Road/Rocky Branch Road|
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The Board also reviewed plans for improvements to the Rocky Branch Road/Mars Hill Road/Virgil Langford Road intersection but didn’t take any action on them.
Beshara said the cost estimates are between $650,000 and $860,000, depending on whether the work is done under contract on by county staff.
The county will need an unbudgeted $400,000 to complete the project, Beshara said.
Included are center turn lanes on all of the roads and a turn signal.
Updates On Mars Hill Road
Beshara told the Board that the work on Phase I of the Mars Hill Road widening project is on schedule and that no more lane shifts are scheduled until the middle of September.
That schedule will result in a great deal of congestion at the corner of Mars Hill Road and Hog Mountain Road once school reopens in August, he said.
Phase II work, for the section of road from Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441, also is progressing, Beshara said, but the state is using two different construction let dates.
One is December of this year, and the other isn’t until 2022.
Beshara also told the commissioners that work on Parkway Boulevard Extension is progressing as planned.
The roadway, which the county is building to open up land opposite Epps Bridge Centre for expansion of that shopping complex and for other developments, is in right of way acquisition stage, Beshara said.
The notice to proceed cannot be issued to Simpson Grading for the $3.4 million construction work until the easements are in place, Beshara said.
Construction should take seven months after work begins, he said.
|Patching And Resurfacing Projects|
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Beshara also presented the board with a list of other road projects he hopes to complete this year, but he indicated his budget is underfunded by about $200,000.
The commissioners told him to come back with proposals on which of the project he should cut from the list.
Oconee Waste Transport
Beshara Tuesday night presented the Board with three bids for solid waste collection and disposal services and reported that, based on county policy, he could not recommend that the contract go to Oconee Waste Transport, the only local bidder.
OWT was more than 7 percent above the other estimates, Beshara said, and county policy is that local firms can be favored but only if they are with 7 percent of the low bidders.
Matt Elder, owner of OWT, came forward at the request of Davis to explain why he felt the county should give him the bid.
Elder is a member of the county’s Industrial Development Authority, and the county spot zoned land south of Watkinsville for him in 2010 to keep him from making good on a threat to move OWT from the county.
The Board asked Beshara to go back and review the bids again in an effort to find a way to award the contract to OWT.
Luke And Davis
Commissioner Jim Luke prodded Beshara, during the discussion of the request by Moreland Altobelli for additional money for the Mars Hill Road project, to explain why the firm wanted $65,030 in post design services.
Beshara had recommended that the initial request for $65,030 be reduced by $20,480 because of the possible delay in Phase II work.
Luke wanted to know what was involved in the remainder of the bill.
Davis tried to redirect the discussion, but Beshara finally reported that the money was for the Old Mars Hill Road connection and for an additional modification along the roadway.
The video below is of Luke’s questioning and Beshara’s response.
Calls Creek Again
Residents who live along Calls Creek again used the opportunity afforded citizens at the beginning of the meeting to raise questions about the proposed pipeline down the creek and related sewer projects.
When they had finished, Davis said he wanted to explain how the decision on the proposed pipeline and other sewer projects will be made.
He emphasized that even before the recommendations from consultants comes before the Board of Commissioners, citizens would have a chance to comment.
Davis’ comments are in the video below.
The Commissioners frequently make decisions on projects and brings them before the public for reaction only before a final vote.
The Parkway Boulevard project, for example, was agreed upon in executive session and then presented to the public as a decision already made.
The full video of the BOC session is below.