By Katie Fallon

A representative from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) told the city council April 17 that the reason two GDOT projects have stalled on Roswell Road is because of disputes with the contractor. The projects at Dunwoody Place and Northridge Road were supposed to be completed last year.

Mark McKinnon, district 7 communications specialist for GDOT, told the council at its regular meeting that in addition to contractor problems with the Lions Group, GDOT has also run into trouble relocating the utilities affected by the construction.

At Dunwoody Place, changes include expanding and adding several lanes. Westbound lanes at Dunwoody Place are being expanded to include two right turn lanes, two left turn lanes and one lane to continue straight across Roswell Road onto Hannover Park Road. Two eastbound lanes will take drivers to GA 400.

On Roswell Road, the number of northbound lanes will remain the same, but the right turn lane is being improved. Southbound traffic will utilize two left turn lanes onto Dunwoody Place and one right turn lane onto Hannover Park. Roswell Road is also receiving bicycle lanes on both side and the entire intersection is receiving new traffic signals, lighting and drainage.

Because the problems involve a potential lawsuit, McKinnon said he could not go into specifics about what contract issues are being debated.

“It is a litigation issue,” McKinnon said. “Right now, we have a conflict as to whether they are in compliance with our contract. I can’t really say anything further than that.”

What is not being debated is that progress on both projects has clearly stalled. For all intents and purposes, McKinnon said the Lions Group has essentially walked off the job while the disputes remain.

“Right now, they are not on the project except doing some minor work,” McKinnon said. “They are paving Hannover Park and other small work. Right now, we’re trying to resolve the claim.”

While various council members voiced their concerns, Mayor Eva Galambos thanked McKinnon for receiving the brunt of complaints that were not caused by GDOT follies.

“We’re equally frustrated on some things,” McKinnon said.

The council, led by District 2 councilwoman Dianne Fries, said it would back GDOT in severing ties with the Lions Group if the situation led to that.

“I would like to ask that we put a letter forth from the council asking the commissioner to end [GDOT’s] relationship with the Lions Group and bid it out to another contractor,” Fries said.

McKinnon said that in his past experience, GDOT has not gone so far as to default a contractor, but that there are default provisions in the terms of the Lions Group contract. He said defaulting a contract, though, could create more legal issues that would further delay the projects, but that having a letter from the council in GDOT’s pocket would not hurt its negotiations.

“We typically use defaulting a contractor as the absolute, last resort,” McKinnon said.

In addition to meeting regularly with the Lions Group, McKinnon said GDOT is also working with the utility companies and trying to complete a number of temporary paving projects to address complaints of rough entrance to Hannover Park Road and Roswell Road from Northridge Road. Temporary paving is also being completed in business driveways that have been disturbed by the construction.

District 4 councilwoman Ashley Jenkins voiced concerns about being able to bring a timeline back to residents on when completion can be expected, but McKinnon said that was not possible while disputes remain.

Representatives from the Lions Group did not speak at the council meeting.