County may merge road departments
by Sarah Fay Campbell
For more than 30 years, Coweta County’s Road Department has been housed at the county prison, behind the guard line.
“It’s not conducive to interaction with the public. It’s good for security, but the facility does not meet the current need or future needs,” said Coweta Associate Administrator Eddie Whitlock at the recent work session of the Board of Commissioners.
The county’s heavy equipment shop and auto shop are also highly inadequate for current and future needs according to Whitlock.
Whitlock proposed merging the Road Department and the Transportation and Engineering Department into a new Department of Transportation for the county, citing the need for two such departments to merge.
In addition to building new facilities, the county also needs a new heavy equipment shop and auto shop. The two would be located in one facility but divided.
“Transportation and Engineering currently handles timber harvesting permits, which require building a logging road, just because the road department is behind the guard line,” said Tod Handley, director of transportation and engineering.
The two departments also work together on drainage issues, and as the county continues to develop, there will be more road projects, more traffic signals and more signage.
Cawthorne noted that upon coming to Coweta 25 years ago, there were 13 road department employees, not including prison inmates. Now there are 60, including the Environmental Management Department.
There are three bays at the auto shop currently and, according to Sherrif Yeager, at least four more are needed.
This is no funding for the new department or shop, and money from the fund balance reserve may have to be used instead, according to County Administrator Michael Fouts.
If Transportation and Engineering move, the current space in the County Administration Building would be available for demolition or remodeling, according to Whitlock. The office has 2,500 square feet, a lobby, seven offices, restrooms and a conference room.
“We have met with the city and may have some opportunities going forward to expand some parking, maybe some joint ventures with them,” Whitlock said.