Loring Heights Neighborhood Association President Ron Grunwald came away from Wednesday's meeting with officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation and the city of Atlanta feeling like the whole process of scheduling construction projects needs a change.
Grunwald said he was happy with the meeting turnout, and did like learning that the water main installation on Northside Drive may not coincide as much with the planned Amtrak station improvements in North Midtown because of how contractor bidding on the water main project works, but he still feels that this whole situation was badly handled.
He said that he thinks neighborhoods should be informed sooner about proposed construction projects, scheduling projects should be approached differently and budgets need to be hammered out more thoroughly. For example, GDOT can't provide the money to hire off-duty police officers to help with traffic flow through residential streets in the detouring areas and he asked why they couldn't have thought about that potential cost sooner and budgeted for it.
"I certainly hope that they'll come around and that they'll be able to restore some faith in that so that next time these projects come around, we're not going to be concerned. We're going to know, 'yep, we can call them up, and if there's a problem, they're going to fix it,'" he said.
Concern lingers about what could happen if a problem arises with the construction.
"If things go south on this project and start really making a mess, or this detour doesn't work, and then we ask for help and don't get it, I think you're really going to hear a number of complaints on that," Grunwald said.
Improvements to the Amtrak station set to begin in early July and water main installation and improvement on Northside Drive set to start at the end of July or early August have been expected to combine to create problems for drivers. The Buckhead Council of Neighbors wants to ease the pain by rescheduling the projects.
Officials have said that's not possible due to funding issues, so neighborhood association leaders and the City of Atlanta hashed out a detour route around the Amtrak station. Part of the detour route, on 17th Street, has its own problems involving the improper timing of traffic lights, according to Grunwald.