Monday, June 16, 2008

Is it possible to take local politics out of road maintenance? We can only dream.

In my last blog entry, I guess I hit a nerve? Rep. Jill Chambers sent me an e-mail stating that I was attacking her and then she went on a blog entry to call me paranoid. The entry also raised a number of comments regarding the inadequate infrastructure improvements in the community and a neighbor summed it up well in saying that at times it “seems the politicians do more work for each other, then the residents they are suppose to serve”. In reality I was only highlighting the inequity of the CEO form of government in DeKalb County as it relates to this administration and used the example of Ms. Chambers newly paved street and her close and personal relationship with Vernon Jones as a possible example of such inequity.

Roads cost a lot of money and if they are not maintained properly and adequately, the subsurface of the street will eventually be compromised whereby the entire street will need to be dug up and replaced, instead of just being repaved. The county road engineers are well aware of this situation and there is a grading system whereby every street is to be analyzed every year. I’m not sure if this really happens every year or how reliable the numbers provided are but I have attached the 2007 street ratings for District 1 of DeKalb County so you can take a look at them for yourself and find your street (though some seem to be missing). Anyway the entire County road rating list is not available on line without an open records request; therefore the road repaving program cannot be evaluated or tracked by the citizens of the county without putting forth some effort in order to do so.

In doing research for the transportation needs of the future city, I found that the City of Sandy Springs has a wonderful system for tracking the infrastructure needs of the city as it relates to the road ratings. First & foremost they hired a contractor with a special piece of equipment which has a GPS device and several lasers analyzing the surface of the street and the depths of the potholes. The data from this analysis is then fed into a computer and overlaid on a map of the city so that it can quickly show accurate information for every street. Sandy Springs then publishes this same map to the web so that all of the residents can have access to the information and the politicians would have a harder time doling out street repaving to their friends. I really like this system and would hope that DeKalb could somehow find a way to improve their current method of tracking and providing the information.

If nothing else they could publish the annual road ratings on a county wide basis so that our limited road improvement budget goes to those roads that need the most assistance.

I started this blog with the belief that transparency in government breeds self corrective behavior and no matter who gets upset at me, I am just doing my part to bring such issues to the table.

It's either that or I'm just being paranoid.

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