Oconee County has abandoned plans to build a roundabout at the parent entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School, cutting in half the number of planned or constructed roundabouts on Malcom Bridge Road between Mars Hill Road and Lenru Road.
Construction of the roundabout at the bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School and Malcom Bridge Elementary School will begin in spring and be completed before school starts in August, according to Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell.
Brock Toole, chief operations officer for Oconee County Schools, told the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday that, based on his conversations with staff in the county’s Public Works Department, the county no longer plans to construct the roundabout at the parent entrance.
Toole provided that information in response to a question from Board of Education Member Tim Burgess.
Commission Chair John Daniell confirmed today (Wednesday) that “the roundabout at the parent entrance is not under consideration at this time and the BOE was aware of that decision in October of 2019.”
At the School Board meeting on Monday, Board of Education Member Wayne Bagley also told Toole he wanted more information about the county's request that the school system move a forced main sewer line for the construction of the roundabout at the bus and staff entrance.
In an unrelated development, after the Board of Commissioners meeting last (Tuesday) night, incumbent commissioners Mark Saxon and Mark Thomas announced their plans to seek re-election.
Bishop Mayor and former County Commissioner Johnny Pritchett announced his plans on Facebook on Monday to challenge Commission Chair Daniell. Carol Bennett, a member of the county’s Family and Children Services Board, already has announced her plan to run for County Commission chair. The three would run as Republicans in the May 19 primary.
The county began discussing roundabouts on Malcom Bridge Road in late summer of 2018 in conjunction with a proposed rezone for a shopping complex between Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road near the Malcom Bridge Road school campuses.
At one point, the county proposed building a roundabout at the Lenru Road intersection, at the parent entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School, at the bus and staff entrance to the middle and elementary school, and at the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Malcom Bridge Road.
The Board of Education objected to the roundabouts at the two school entrances and refused to grant to the county the rights of way to build those road interchanges.
The county abandoned plans for the roundabout at Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road because it interfered with driveways at that location, but the Board of Commissioners decided to alter the designs of the two school entrance roundabouts to be able to build them without School Board approval.
Construction on the roundabout at the intersection of Mars Hill Road and Malcom Bridge Road is complete.
The final item of Chief Operations Officer Toole’s report to the Board of Education on Monday was an update on construction of the bus and staff entrance roundabout.
“We continue to have communication with Jody Woodall, Oconee County Public Works director, as the updates occur,” Toole said. With that, he ended his report.
“On the roundabouts,” Board of Education Member Tim Burgess said, “several of us have had different conversations with individual members of the Commission over the last three or four months about that roundabout and the issues associated with it, the concerns that we’ve voiced.
“And it seemed that maybe the Commission was beginning to maybe reassess whether or not the roundabout in front of the parent entrance was the right approach or not given the conversations we’ve had,” Burgess continued.
“In your conversations with the staff over there, have you gotten any information out of them that suggests that they are still moving forward with the roundabout or rethinking it or are in some stage of debate about that?” Burgess continued.
“From the information I’ve received from staff,” Toole said, “Jody Woodall–is that that roundabout is off the table. They will not be doing that roundabout at the parent entrance.”
“So the staff is saying to you, they’re not...working on or planning on putting a roundabout there at least for the foreseeable future?” Burgess responded.
“Yes sir, that is correct,” Toole responded.
“That’s good. That’s good. That’s good to hear,” Burgess said.
“I’ve got a question about the roundabout that is going in at the bus entrance,” Board Member Bagley said.
|Bagley, Burgess, Toole 2/3/2020|
“It is my understanding we have a force main that comes out of that pump station that goes into the sewer outflow line, I assume it’s on the other side of the road,” Bagley said.
Toole nodded that Bagley was correct.
“So we’re having to upgrade that as a result of the construction of the roundabout?” Bagley continued.
“That is correct,” Toole said.
“Can you give me a little detail on why we’re having to upgrade? Is it too shallow or too small?” Bagley continued.
Toole said the county wanted to move the line so it does not go through the center of the roundabout.
Bagley asked Toole to send him drawings of the plan and said “I want to understand the necessity of that.”
I asked Commission Chair Daniell in an email late on Monday to confirm that the county was not planning to build the parent entrance roundabout. He was in Atlanta yesterday, and he responded early this morning.
|Utility Plan (Click To Enlarge)|
“The BOC and BOE are working at the board level on the Malcom Bridge corridor,” Daniell wrote, referring to the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.
“Based on strong objections made by the BOE, the roundabout at the parent entrance is not under consideration at this time and the BOE was aware of that decision in October of 2019,” his note continued. “Each board communicated the decision to their staff.
“The two boards will continue to discuss how to best obtain the long-term objectives of safety and efficiency of the roadway,” the note continued. “I was anticipating a joint presentation of the results of our working together on the roadway changes at a future date.”
Sewer Line Explanation
Regarding the sewer line, Daniell said “The force main in question is privately owned by the BOE.
“The current location of the force main will be under the new roundabout after construction,” he continued. “Having the force main underneath the roundabout is not a best practice.
“When the force main fails or requires maintenance, the BOE will encounter significant additional expense to return the roadway back to original condition,” he wrote. “In addition, the repair itself would create major inconvenience for our joint stakeholders.
“Waiting to relocate the line at a later date will also require more expense as it will require the BOE to bore under the roadway. The line is in conflict with roundabout and the BOE staff is being asked by BOC staff to move the line per our ROW policy.”
Woodall sent me a copy of the plans that, he said, the county had provided to Toole.
Daniell said that construction on the bus entrance roundabout “will likely start in the spring for any work that can be performed outside the current roadway.
“Once school is out for the contractor will be allowed to have road closures,” Daniell wrote. “The roundabout is expected to be complete prior to school starting.”
The Board of Commissioners, at its Dec. 3 meeting, approved a bid from ER Snell Contractor Inc. of Snellville for $561,377 for construction of the roundabout at the bus and staff entrance to Malcom Bridge Elementary and Malcom Bridge Middle School.
Other Parts Of Report
The Board of Education meeting on Monday was brief, and Toole’s report was a main part.
He also told the Board that the six new buses the school system purchased from Peach State Freightliner arrived the week of January 27 and had passed all pre-delivery inspections.
Toole also said that all 90 of the school systems’ buses passed the Jan. 27 inspection by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The school system has issued a request for proposal for bids for sports field lighting at North Oconee High School, Toole said.
In response to a question from Burgess, Toole said the upgrade to LED lighting would be to the baseball, softball, soccer, and football fields, all of which are currently lit.
The system upgraded the lights at Oconee High School last year.
The video below is of the Board of Education meeting on Monday.
Toole discussed the bus purchase at 8:33 in the video.
Toole began his discussion of the field light at North Oconee High School at 9:12 in the video.
Toole began his discussion of the roundabout at 9:28 in the video.