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DOT mistake will cost taxpayers $98,000

10:56 PM, Dec 10, 2012   |    comments
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SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Transportation is admitting to a mistake that will cost taxpayers nearly $100,000.

DOT crews are ripping up several concrete medians that were constructed along Johnson Ferry Road only a month ago.

"We all see it as waste," said Johnson Ferry Road resident James Cleary. "It adds up to pour all that concrete, then come in and tear it out."

A spokesman for the DOT says instead of concrete, the medians were supposed to include grass and trees.

"We went back and looked and realized it was in fact a mistake on our part," said the DOT's Mark McKinnon. "We're making that mistake good, it will just take a little longer and cost a little more money."

McKinnon estimates the mistake will cost taxpayers around $98,000.

The Department of Transportation is nearing the end of a $13-million improvement project along Johnson Ferry Road near the Chattahoochee River. The project was decades in the planning stages and involved input from a citizens committee.

Years ago, the DOT told neighbors that several medians would involve landscaping like grass and trees.

"Then we saw the concrete going in," said Cleary. "I made a comment to the superintendent that it's supposed to be grass, and he said no, they changed it to concrete. I said, we'll see how long that lasts."

It lasted about a month.

The DOT admits it did agree to construct medians with grass and trees in several areas. According to McKinnon, that agreement never made it into the final plans.

"There's a human element in all of this," said McKinnon. "It's not an exact science. When agreements are made you hope all the paperwork gets where it's supposed to go."

When neighbors saw concrete instead of grass and trees, they complained.

"It costs money for the mistakes they make," said Cleary. "Somebody's got to come in and rip this concrete out and haul it away. The DOT has to pay for this, which is the taxpayer."

On Monday afternoon, a large machine broke the month old concrete median into pieces so it could be replaced with landscaping.

"Sometimes things get overlooked on occasion," said McKinnon. "We're fortunate that it rarely happens. When they do happen we want to take responsibility. The citizens will be getting what we promised."

When asked if the person responsible for the mistake would be held accountable, McKinnon said the DOT is not pointing fingers, but taking responsibility as a team.

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