In a 5-0 decision, the commissioners voted April 22 to approve a “Declaration of Taking” as a “just in-case” measure if negotiations over a right-of-way falls through, said county spokesman Robert Quigley.
Floyd Road is set to undergo a roadway safety and operational improvements project stretching 0.61 miles from Glore Circle — between Veterans Memorial Highway and Puckett Drive — to Clay Road.
Cobb District Engineer Russ Ford said approximately 5 to 10 percent of parcel acquisitions for road projects by the Cobb Department of Transportation are done through condemnation proceedings.
The county is acquiring rights-of-way, all from commercial properties, for the project. One parcel toward the south portion of the site just north of Veterans Memorial Highway has not been acquired.
“In the event a settlement cannot be reached, the county will file a condemnation action in the Cobb County Superior Court to acquire the property needed,” Ford said. “The appraised value is paid into the Court Registry at the time the petition is filed and settlement negotiations will continue.”
According to the Cobb County Tax Assessor’s office, Troung Tran has owned the property since 2006 and operates Full Throttle Automotive, a service garage on the site.
The county is asking for 475 square feet of right-of-way and 986 square feet of temporary construction easement out of the total 0.85 acres of property appraised for $160,910.
Tran’s son, Joseph, 22, lives with his father in Austell and is the family’s business manager.
Joseph Tran said a settlement has not been reached because the amount offered was not worth the money his family will lose and the inconvenience of having the garage driveway blocked for two years.
Joseph Tran said the county started by offering $5,000 and then raised the amount to $7,000. The last time the Tran family spoke to officials was April 15 and they have not received any legal filings of condemnation.
“They don’t really want to budge,” Tran said.
Improvements without delay
The $6.4 million project on Floyd Road is funded by the 2011 SPLOST Transportation Improvements Program and includes intersection improvements and construction of a raised median.
“The improvements will reduce the amount of accidents at intersections by channeling traffic with the use of left turn lanes to eliminate midblock left turn conflict and provide a safer route for pedestrians,” Ford said.
An eight-foot-wide multi-use trail along the west side of Floyd Road from Veterans Memorial Highway to Fontaine Road, and a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail from Fontaine Road to Clay Road will be added, along with a pedestrian bridge to the west of the existing roadway bridge over the railroad.
Still, Joseph Tran said the trails will not benefit his business. He also says the road upgrades, which may provide better traffic flow, will not increase the value of his family’s property.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area, said she feels confident the deal will be negotiated, and she wants the best outcome for both the property owners and the county.
“I know it is needed to make that intersection much more safe,” Cupid said.
According to a report presented to the commissioners April 22 by Cobb Department of Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo, condemnation will only be used “to ensure project deadlines are met.”
The project is still in the final phase of engineering design, Ford said, with construction anticipated to begin this fall. Construction will take 18 to 24 months.
“It is going to provide a significant uplift to the area as well as better traffic flow to downtown Mableton,” Cupid said.
She added the pedestrian paths along Floyd Road will connect to existing trails systems at Veterans Memorial Highway, giving the whole route better visibility.
“The Silver Comet Trail is one of the best assets in our district,” Cupid said.