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County to debate closing road

POSTED: January 2, 2012 5:06 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners will hold a public hearing tonight at 6 p.m. to discuss possible abandonment of Herbert Kessler Road.

Several residents along the road have signed a petition asking the commissioners to close the unimproved portion of the road, but other property owners along the road also are pleading with the commissioners to keep the road open.

Should commissioners choose to abandon the road, they would have to pass a resolution declaring that portion of the road closed and rename a section of the road.

County commissioners also could opt to acquire the right-of-way needed to improve the entire road and keep it open or choose not to improve the road and continue to utilize it as a prescriptive easement.

At their only meeting last month, commissioners approved purchasing the rights-of-way for improvements along Courthouse Road Extension. County public works engineer Toss Allen said an estimate from Moreland Altobelli put the cost of rights-of-way acquisition at $171,130, but his own estimate moved that figure closer to $200,000.

“That’s because there is no cost included for attorney’s fees or titles,” Allen said. “There are 31 properties along there, so we would have at least 31 closings.”

Improvements to the road could cost from $600,000-$800,000, according to Allen. The length of the road in question is about a mile and half, and the ash on it would have to be removed.

“There’s a lot of utility relocation,” Allen said.

He said work on the road would impact the county’s budget for this fiscal year and next fiscal year.

“There are sufficient funds in this year’s budget to cover acquisition but not acquisition and construction,” Allen said.

Traffic on Courthouse Road Extension is more than 1,000 vehicles a day, Allen noted.

“Those thousand cars that go down that road every day, they’ll go down Blue Jay Road,” said 1st District Commissioner Bob Brantley, “and that’s already a bad place.”

With 31 parcels to acquire, Allen also tried to steel commissioners to the prospect of condemnation for some of the property.

“There are residents on that road who are not in favor,” he said, “so there are going to be condemnations. It not going to be just happy people giving us property.”

County project manager Adam Kobek also advised commissioners not to let the survey and title work that has been done lapse.

“We’ve paid for the title work. We’ve paid for the survey. You don’t want those things to get dated and then come back in two years and pick it all and do all new title work,” he said.

The design for the re-worked road will be done in-house, Allen said.

Commissioners also have approved a work authorization of $4,000 from Kern Coleman to add 648 square feet to the planned sanitation and public works office. That pushes architectural and engineering costs of the building to $16,500 but commissioners did not approve costs for geotechnical and soil work or for extra printing.

Plans call for adding 648 square feet to the original design of 1,944 square feet.


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