Forsyth County commissioners grappled with the details of repairing and reopening Sanders Road during a work session Tuesday.
The commission voted 3-1, with Commissioner Jim Boff opposed and Chairman Pete Amos recused, to direct the county attorney to prepare an offer to split the costs of repairs with the city of Cumming up to $100,000.
However, commission by-laws require at least four votes to send the agreement onto the city, so Boff’s vote will be needed.
Amos recused himself from the issue due to his wife’s partial ownership in the Lake Alice Dam.
Sanders Road was damaged and closed following the dam’s breach during heavy rain May 19.
The city performed temporary repairs later that week to allow the road, which is primarily county-owned, to reopen to traffic.
The county and city split the costs of the emergency fix at about $15,700 each.
In mid-June, continued rain compromised the temporary repair and caused the road to close again.
County Manager Doug Derrer said the estimated cost to fix Sanders Road is $172,000, a figure that also took some time to develop due to rain delaying the ability to evaluate the damage.
“Both the city and the county would like the road repaired. It’s a thoroughfare,” Derrer said, asking the commission how they would like to proceed.
Commissioner Brian Tam suggested the county pitch in half the cost, as was done with the temporary repair.
“The public just wants the road open,” Tam said. “I think we ought to just go ahead and offer to split it with them and let them take it on as a project.”
Citing the failure of the temporary repair project, led by the city, the other commissioners expressed concern about allowing Cumming to take full control of the project.
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said if the county contributes money, its staff should have input. Commissioner Todd Levent felt the county should oversee the project and select the contractor.
Levent said the county’s 56-inch pipe culvert failed under the road, and it will be replaced by a concrete box culvert, which will be the largest expense of the project.
He ultimately agreed to the city taking the lead with stipulations that county procurement policies must be followed for the bidding process.
“I’m not totally comfortable with this, but we need to get the road open for the citizens,” he said before casting his vote.
Commissioner Jim Boff felt the city should take responsibility and pay for the repairs, noting the county’s culvert system was in place long before development rushed into the area.
“The county did not cause the damage,” Boff said. “It did rain, but also this land has in the last several years roughly 400 acres has been converted to … entirely impervious surface. And to pretend that didn’t have any effect on this or isn’t related to this, to me, is ridiculous.”