By Amy Wenk
For the past three years, Sandy Springs officials have placed a priority on improving street conditions in the city.
“We inherited a road system from Fulton County when we became a city that had received no maintenance for years,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “From the very first month we were in office, we pledged that repaving our roads … was going to be a high priority.”
The city established a Pavement Management Program and scientifically rated roads using a camera-equipped truck.
In three years, $24.5 million has been spent to resurface 64 miles of roads. The city has concentrated on arterial and collector streets classified as in poor to fair condition.
But no work has addressed roads in the lowest “unacceptable” category, an issue resident Andy Malcolm raised during the May 19 City Council meeting.
The North Island Terrace homeowner complained his road is “literally dangerous” and asked the city to address such damaged areas.
“We paid a lot of money to buy on that street because of the location, location, location,” said Malcolm, who grew up in Sandy Springs and returned three years ago. “It is so embarrassing that we don’t even want friends from up north coming to stop on their way to Florida.”
He said his 9-year-old triplets cannot even ride a bicycle on the street.
“Our road hasn’t just got potholes in it; it’s literally falling apart,” Malcolm said in a later interview.
Galambos said she is aware of such paving situations in Sandy Springs. According to a September document from the Public Works Department, 19 percent of the city’s streets are in such poor condition.
Because of the extensive deterioration of base material, those streets require complete reconstruction, which costs approximately three times as much as resurfacing. That expense has led the city to prioritize resurfacing roads in danger of becoming unfixable.
“In other words, we tried to repair what is repairable first,” Galambos said. “It’s a trade-off between keeping things from getting worse vs. resurrecting and reconstructing ones that are just awful.”
She said the council is evaluating whether to allocate money for road reconstruction from the 2010 budget and should decide by summer. The Pavement Management Program is proposed to receive almost $5.5 million in the fiscal year starting July 1.
“I know we will be looking at it,” Galambos said. “We will put an amount of money into street maintenance, but then how we divide that street maintenance between paving and actually rebuilding will come at a later time.”