February 24, 2014

Commissioners approve Brooker Road bid

Charles Oliver

— When it’s finished, the Brooker Road extension will allow drivers to go from the North Bypass to Dawnville Road without having to go through the often crowded intersection of the Bypass and Cleveland Highway.

On Monday, the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners approved 4-0 a $5 million bid from Northwest Georgia Paving for the project, even though the commissioners are still waiting for the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to sign off on some of the plans. The bid on the project expires on Friday, and commissioners said they did not want to go through the process of re-bidding it.

“We were faced today with losing a bid we took in last July,” said board Chairman Mike Babb. “We want to do this project. It was the No. 1 project on the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that voters approved (in 2007).”

County Engineer Kent Benson said county officials have been working with the EPD since May 2013 to get approval for stream buffer barriers to protect waterways in the area around the construction.

“We talked to the reviewer this morning,” Benson said. “She said if there are no problems with it approval should come in two-and-a-half to three weeks. If there’s a problem, they will send it back to us to revise.”

Benson said if the plans are approved, construction could start as soon as six weeks after the approval. If the plans are not approved, the work could be delayed up to three or four more months.

In addition to easing congestion on the North Dalton Bypass and Cleveland Highway, officials say the extension will open up that area for future development.

Babb said acquiring right of way as well as meeting state and federal requirements on wetlands mitigation, erosion control and other matters is why the project has taken several years.