Newton public works to be evaluated

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Commissioners approved Tuesday night a $31,541.14 contract with Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. to evaluate the county's Public Works Department.

Two retired DOT engineers will evaluate the department and train public works employees two to three days per week for the next six months. According to a proposal for services, the engineers will evaluate the structure and operations of the department, make written recommendations for improvements and assist with implementation of approved recommendations.

The engineers will also train all public works staff to inspect roadways using methods employed by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Chairman Kathy Morgan said the county's method isn't always consistent with the state's, which can create barriers. It will be helpful to have the same rating system when reporting to the DOT, she said.

"We want to look for roads that need repairs and how to rate them so we can prioritize road improvement needs and be consistent with the way the DOT manages their assets. A lot of the information we share with the DOT needs to be done in the same language," she said.

This will especially be important during the county's application for the DOT's Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program, which funds paving of local roadways, she said.

"We need to make sure all work crews are trained instead of a few key personnel so every time they do a pothole repair or paving repair that employees could say this road needs to be on the list. We have 776 miles of paved roads and there's no way only one or two people can do asset management," she said.

The engineers will help assess pavement conditions, drainage structures, pavement markings, signage, guardrails and other roadway conditions, along with manpower and equipment.

The Public Works Department was consolidated with the Engineering and Water Resources departments due to budget cuts last year. Morgan said a new chief engineer was hired last week to oversee all departments. She declined to name the new employee until a formal announcement and introduction are made to the Board of Commissioners. She said a public announcement will likely be made on Jan. 31, the first day the engineer will report to work.