Officials gathered at the historic Mable House to commemorate the $4.9 million construction on widening Floyd Road between Clay Road, just south of the site, to a mile north where Floyd Road splits with Hicks Road. Officials said there have been 35 Cobb Board of Commissioners agenda items related to the project, which has been in the works for nearly 20 years.
County spokesman Robert Quigley said the groundbreaking had been scheduled weeks earlier, when officials thought they would get anticipated contracts back from GDOT sooner, giving the Board of Commissioners time to approve the construction contract before the groundbreaking. But once it was pushed back, he said it was too late for some of the involved participants to reschedule, so they decided to go ahead with the ceremony before getting approval.
With sounds from a nearby farmers market in the background, former Gov. Roy Barnes reminisced about his time growing up across the street from Mable House and playing in Floyd Road, which was then dirt. While Floyd Road has grown into one of Cobb’s busier thoroughfares, he said the new project will have some elements that harken back to an earlier time, such as larger, five-foot-wide sidewalks.
“We are rebuilding and redeveloping a community that’s sustainable — I know that’s a bad word — livable,” Barnes said. “And one that we can raise all our children.”
The project will widen Floyd Road from two narrower lanes in each direction, with a center turning lane running down the middle, to two 11-foot-wide lanes in each direction, divided by a 20-foot-wide raised grass and concrete median.
“The road is going to be much safer than it is now,” said southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson, who represents the unincorporated Mableton community.
Shortly after zipping through a nearby hopscotch course, Commission Chairman Tim Lee said the Floyd Road project was an example of Cobb County working with partners such as the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is needed to make such road projects a reality.
“All these folks coming together is what makes Mableton a community,” he said. “You need not look further than Mableton as a guiding model of what a sense of place in the community is. This roadway will help with that.”
While the project was originally approved in 1994, it was never completed during that SPLOST and had to be rolled into the 2005 SPLOST. Dan McDuff, Cobb Department of Transportation’s deputy director, said funding issues with GDOT led to a delay in the project, and it was further delayed because design changes were called for after traffic picked up on Floyd Road during the delay.
McDuff said Floyd Road has an average daily traffic count of 36,100 vehicles, making it Cobb’s ninth busiest county-maintained road. The road connects the south central part of the county with Interstate 20 and points farther south.
McDuff said the county decided to widen Floyd Road between Clay and Hicks roads first because that area had the greatest safety needs.
While the Floyd Road widening had been delayed by issues with GDOT in the past, McDuff said Cobb DOT is now working very well with the state. GDOT will pay $2.3 million of the project’s $4.9 million construction cost, with the county paying the rest. Cobb County is also responsible for paying $1.5 million in right-of-way acquisition cost, as well as $429,103 for design on the project.
Rachel Brown, GDOT’s District 7 engineer, worked a plug for the July 31 TSPLOST vote into her comments Thursday, hinting that the TIA would pay for the Floyd Road widening, even though the county already has funding for the project.
“With a ‘yes’ vote, in all 12 regional commissions, tax revenue could generate an estimated $18.67 billion over 10 years to support transportation investment in Georgia,” she said. “If a region votes to approve that tax, the revenue generated from that tax would be used for transportation projects within that region, such as the Floyd Road widening.”
The project is expected to start construction in July or August and be complete by January 2014, McDuff said. Even though there will be some lane closures during utility and storm drainage work, Floyd Road will remain open.
While the stretch between Clay Road and Hicks Road is seen as the portion of Floyd Road with the greatest need, the Board of Commissioners has already approved a design contract for an extension of the project that will take the improvements south of the Mable House to the intersection with Veterans Memorial Highway. That project, funded in the 2011 SPLOST, is expected to start construction in February 2014 and be completed by July 2015.
No widening of Floyd or Hicks roads is planned north of where the two roads meet, where they are both one lane in each direction, Thompson said.
“The two roads share the traffic,” he said. “That kind of splits it fairly evenly.”
In addition to the road improvements and five-foot-wide sidewalks on the east side of Floyd Road, a 10-foot-wide multiuse trail is being built on the west side. When the final phase of the project is complete, bicyclists, runners and walkers will be able to take the trail from Veterans Memorial Highway to the Silver Comet Trail.
Others on hand included northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham, northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, State Rep. Terry Johnson (D-Marietta), South Cobb Redevelopment Authority Chairman Ford Thigpen, also president of Westside Bank, South Cobb Business Association President Wayne Dodd and South Cobb Arts Alliance President Lorien Trapani.
Baldwin Paving Company of Marietta will serve as the lead contractor on the project, if it gets commissioners approval. Its bid of $5.6 million was lower than those of C.W. Matthews of Marietta, which bid $5.7 million and CMES Inc. of Lilburn, which bid $6.1 million.
Those bids also cover the Cobb Water System’s construction costs of $661,449 on the project, which will be paid with water revenues instead of SPLOST money. McDuff said it made the bids lower to have companies perform work for both the transportation and water departments.
“There’s nothing worse than two separate contractors with two separate contracts working on the same roadway,” he said.
With state and water money taken out, a total of $2.6 million of the Floyd Road widening from Hicks to Clay roads will come from the 2005 SPLOST.