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Forsyth commissioner sounds off on Old Atlanta Road project
District 5’s Semanson angry over delays, safety
Semanson Laura
Laura Semanson.

Drivers frustrated by the ongoing project to widen Old Atlanta Road are not alone.

District 5 Commissioner Laura Semanson spoke out against the delayed construction during a commission work session on Tuesday. Semanson said she had heard from many residents affected by the widening of Old Atlanta between Nichols and Sharon roads.

“The only people that are sicker of hearing about Old Atlanta Road and its lack of progress than the people sitting at this table are the people living through it, many of which are my constituents,” Semanson said.

She said the project was planned to be completed already and that the contractor has paid more than $200,000 in fines for not meeting the deadline.

“Originally, it was supposed to be completed by May of 2016, which they are now saying it’s going to be Oct. 30 of this year,” she said. “Yet, of the $5.7-million-and-change total contract price, only $2.6 million of the work has been completed.

“So essentially, in less than 90 days this is supposed to be done.”

The county has also been required to pay settlements to property owners associated with the project. 

“This project is not only costing us to do the work itself, but it’s costing us in what we’re having to clean up behind their work,” Semanson said. “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. They can say October and then it will be May again next year, and we’re two years behind.”

Semanson said she wants to look at ways to get the project done by requiring they bring in more workers, making them pay for extra police presence and having a member of county staff make sure traffic is flowing properly.

The project, which is the second phase of widening the road, began at the same time as another project to widen a portion of Old Atlanta from St. Marlo Country Club Parkway to McGinnis Ferry Road, which was the third phase of the widening project. The third phase was bid for $6.5 million and completed in May.

Construction for both projects was awarded to Vertical Earth Inc., in 2015.

Semanson said her main concerns are pedestrian and driver safety and had strong words about the county working with the contractor again.

“I’m going to laugh out loud if that contractor ever comes forward with another project they’re bidding on because low price doesn’t matter when someone’s child is injured. There has to be a higher bar,” she said. “I think that moving forward we need to have some policy decisions that are made with respect to what indemnifications to require of a contractor going in so we’re not having to settle up and clean up all the messes with people they’re working beside.”

Future projects to widen the road from St. Marlo to Old Atlanta Parkway — phase four — and Old Atlanta to James Burgess Road — phase five — are currently in the right of way acquisition stage, and construction is expected to begin next year.

No action was taken at the meeting.