A broken-down crane that partly blocked Buckhead’s Peachtree Road was removed late on Dec. 19 after pressure from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Now questions remain as to what a contractor will do to prevent future problems on a stretch of road that has drawn construction closure complaints for months.

The crane was intended to work on the Sutton apartment tower under construction at 2695 Peachtree, whose developer is Preserve Properties. The tower is just south of the Pharr Road intersection, where another apartment tower, Mill Creek’s Modera Buckhead, is also under construction.

A design illustration of the Sutton apartment tower.

The combo projects have drawn complaints from residents in recent months for frequent lane closures without flaggers or useful signage. The crane breakdown was far worse, blocking northbound lanes and tying up traffic on one of Atlanta’s busiest streets.

Peachtree doubles as a state route and is controlled by GDOT, which issues permits for such work. GDOT says that Sutton’s construction contractor, Gilbane Building Company, had proper permits for intermittent lane closures, but not for long-term blockages like the crane set-up. GDOT issued a stop-work order until the crane was removed and now is calculating a fine.

“We are still working through the process to determine the cost of fines based on road user costs,” said GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale, referring to a formula for estimating the economic impact of road closures. The fine is likely to be steep, as thousands of commuters were affected and Dale said GDOT uses a standard value of $17.91 per hour for each passenger vehicle that is delayed.

Gilbane previously said it relied on a traffic management subcontractor whom it believed got proper permits. Gilbane spokesperson Wes Cotter identified that subcontractor as Southern Protection Agency of Villa Rica, whose president and CEO did not immediately respond to questions.

Asked what Gilbane is doing to prevent future construction problems, Cotter said, “We’re exploring a number of options at this point and have nothing new to report.”

Preserve Properties referred questions to Gilbane.

The city of Atlanta did not immediately respond to questions as to whether contractors had sought or obtained permits required to operate a crane over sidewalks and similar city of right of way.

Update: This story has been updated with information from GDOT.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.