Winter Weather Polk Jan. 2018

Most roads in Polk County looked like this following a winter storm moving through overnight Tuesday, January 16, 2018, leaving a dusting of snow any icy conditions. (Kevin Myrick/Standard Journal)

  • A long list of projects awaits the committee as it returns to work.

Polk County Public Works director Michael Gravett will be busy for the months to come with a lot of plans to better utilize the space around the department’s new facility, with some of those to move forward in the weeks to come.

Commissioners on the committee had high praise for the department’s response to two winter weather events and keeping roadways clear for travel as snow and ice fell on Polk County in January.

Commissioners Jennifer Hulsey and Chuck Thaxton both had high praise for the efforts of Gravett and his crew for the work they’ve undertook to keep people safe and moving around the county during winter storms, and in the aftermath in the clean up of brush and fallen trees off the sides of roadways that came down due to the weight of snow and ice.

Gravett gave all the praise and credit for a job well done to keep thoroughfares cleared to his employees, who he said had plenty of time during the second winter event of the month that started late on Jan. 16 to ensure roads were well treated.

He also used the opportunity for the meeting to ask for a spending request he said would make the work in the future easier, and allow the county to cover more roadways. Especially since Gravett said some of his equipment stopped working during one of the big winter storms.

“We had a couple of trucks to go down during that event and we had to scurry around, and we got done a lot still I believe,” Gravett said. “I would like to purchase in the near future — and we may not have another snow this year, and if we don’t praise the lord — but if we do I’d like for us to have some more equipment to fight the fight a little harder..”

The purchase of three additional small plows for use on the county’s pickup trucks, along with two more salt spreaders to attach to the backs of those trucks, will cost an estimated $40,000. Gravett said that having the additional equipment will ultimately provide positive results to avoid icy roads in the future. They wouldn’t be on-hand in time for the rest of this winter, but they would be available if a purchase is allowed for winter of 2019.

“You can fight the fight a little harder if you can get around the county with a smaller fleet of vehicles,” he said. “We’ll still utilize our larger trucks that we use to treat roads and our plow, but I’d like to see some additional plows on some of our smaller trucks.”

All of the equipment if approved for purchase can have attachments placed on the front and back with quick detach items.

“There’s a fine line between when you plow and when you treat,” he said. “You only plow when you have wet snow on the ground, and when there’s ice you don’t plow. If you plow all you’re doing is polishing the top layer and making it slicker.”

He additionally has previously requested the purchase and building of a pole barn structure to be put up behind the new Public Works facility, which would allow for equipment and vehicles to be stored out of the weather, along with the supply of salt and other materials that don’t mix well with rainwater.

The county sought quotes on a pole barn, and came back much more than was expected, and despite value engineering is thousands of dollars over in cost.

Since Gravett is also asking for space for one of his employees responsible for mounting of road signs onto poles before installation, commissioners requested he go back and see how much it would cost to get part of the pole barn enclosed into a space for sign storage and assembly, along with vehicles and equipment.

Using the county’s old Public Works facility after some reconfiguration isn’t a possibility, since both Gravett and County Building Inspector Brian McCrary both said it would require more work and likely cost more than a new pole barn would require.

Much of the cost associated with trying to move the old public works facility and modifying it for use as a covering for vehicles, equipment and materials that can’t be out in the rain would come from having to do new work to it, plus fixing anything that has worn down over the years.

He did get preliminary approval for a plan to get materials used by the department out of public view on property owned by the county adjacent to the Polk County Fairgrounds. He’ll be cutting out a section of trees that surround the back portion of the Public Works facility and that also border the fairgrounds to store rock, culvert pipes and more out of public view. He said he got approval from the Exchange Club of Cedartown, who owns the Fairgrounds, to gain access to the space from their roadway in and out of the property, so long as the county continues to provide help with their area when needed.

Committee members also heard a request for the installation of a new speed bump in the Valley Edge subdivision off Morgan Valley Road, but any work on that won’t be completed until spring, when conditions are right for a bump to be installed using hot mix.

Residents requested the speed bump after complaints over the need to slow down speeding motorists in the neighborhood.

Though he said he personally isn’t a fan of speed bumps on thoroughfares and neighborhood roads due mainly to the disruption of normal traffic and collection of trash around the speed bumps during heavy rains, he does understand why neighborhoods would ask for them.

County Manager Matt Denton said he’d received three complaints about speeders in the neighborhood and said it was “probably kids” who are the ones zipping about in the subdivision.

“There is no point, unless you’re visiting someone,” Denton said. “There’s no through access.”

Denton said his recommendation was to look at requests for speed bumps on a case-by-case basis, mainly due to the fact that county police officers don’t have the manpower to devote to traffic enforcement in subdivisions.

No speed bumps could be installed during winter months right now since Gravett said a hot mix asphalt can’t be used until warmer months to shape and install it.

He asked that if they move forward with any speed bump installations, the county should ask residents to go around and sign a petition first to ensure everyone is on board with making the change to the road.

Additionally, he did not suggest the county use any pre-fabricated speed bumps, since they would ultimately damage the road by puncturing through the road base and cause water to seep under and over time crack the asphalt.

Committee chair Chuck Thaxton also asked the county look at making changes to policies of how the county takes over subdivision roadways, they have any speed bumps they want in place prior to being turned over for county maintenance.

Gravett suggested looking at Paulding County’s policy, which requires residents to pay for speed bumps and then pay for replacement when paving of roads is completed.