Pembroke officials held a freewheeling discussion on roads Monday night at City Hall, prompted in part by the passage of TSPLOST.
The penny sales tax, which begins in September, will give Pembroke about $27,000 a month to use for transportation projects, though first the city intends to put $160,000 back into the general fund for money it spent on resurfacing a portion of Ash Branch Road and Payne Road.
“We’re not going to jump in here in October and repave the whole world,” City Manager Alex Floyd said. “We’ve got to get ourselves back to zero first.”
But TSPLOST’s arrival will bolster Pembroke’s ability to improve its transportation infrastructure, officials said Monday, and they want public input.
Currently, the city gets about $46,000 annually in state funding through local maintenance and infrastructure grants, according Ricky McCoy, Pembroke’s retired clerk of works and a former Georgia DOT engineer.
That money and the city’s match of 30 percent provides Pembroke roughly $59,000 annually to spend on road projects in the city.
Those projects do not come cheap, McCoy said, noting it costs about $52,000 a half mile to resurface a road using standard material.
Even the cost of moving equipment to and from areas to be resurfaced or repaired is costly.
“Bringing in the equipment is a big part of it,” he said, referring to the resurfacing of several area roads that cost about $800,000 – $26,000 of it was simply for “mobilization,” or contractors moving paving machinery from one project area to the next.
Deciding the order in which roads are resurfaced or paved depends on a DOT priority list, Floyd said. Roads are assigned grades by the DOT based at least in part on condition, traffic and the density of development, officials said.
Sidewalks, on the other hand, are decided by the city, and the first priority is to make sure “kids who walk to school get safely from neighborhoods to the schools and home again,” Floyd said.
Pembroke Public Works Director Larry Todd said one of the difficulties with deciding where sidewalks should go is that residents want them where there’s no pedestrian traffic, and don’t want them where people do walk.
“I wouldn’t mind a sidewalk along Patterson,” Todd said, referring to a road through a residential neighborhood connecting Harry Hagan Road to Camellia Drive. It ends near the Pembroke Library and three of North Bryan’s four schools. “But I never see anybody walking alongside Ash Branch,” he said.
Todd, whose department oversees day-to-day maintenance on the city’s approximately 36 miles of paved streets, said the recent resurfacing of Ash Branch and Payne means Pembroke’s road infrastructure is in better shape than it was.
“We got the worst roads with the most traffic taken care of,” he said. “City wide we’re in good shape for now.”
Yet concerns remain over Ash Branch and Payne, which is apparently a road on one end and drive on the other. At Monday’s discussion, officials said neither road was built to withstand daily punishment from heavy trucks.
Ash Branch Road is used by log trucks, and Payne Drive loops in front of the new Bryan County Elementary.
“Neither of those roads was built to maintain the amount of traffic they’ve had to carry,” Todd said, adding Ash Branch and Payne “were not the worst roads in the city, but they had the most traffic on a daily basis, and they would wear us out trying to keep them maintained.”
And then there’s Mother Nature to contend with.
“Every time we think we’re about to catch up, then we have a hurricane or a snow storm,” he said. “I don’t think I can stand another hurricane.”
Weather aside, Pembroke may eventually get something equally new to South Georgia. The Georgia DOT is considering a roundabout at the intersection of Ash Branch, Camellia Drive and Smith Street, Floyd said, which may help limit log truck traffic on Ash Branch Road.