Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flood-Damaged Bridges Repair Costs Approved

Emergency repairs to three roadway bridges damaged in the floods last September were officially ratified by the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The work began immediately under emergency contracts issued to minimize road closings following the flood. Two were completed and opened to traffic within 30 days and the third, while remaining open to traffic, is now nearing completion. E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc. was the low responsive bidder on all three contracts for a total of $1.15 million.

The three bridges are located on Garner Road over Garner Creek, Martin Nash Road over Turkey Creek and Club Drive over Sweetwater Creek.

Gwinnett DOT Director Brian Allen said the work was initially paid for with 2009 SPLOST funds although the County expects to receive reimbursement from federal disaster-recovery funds. “We greatly appreciate the ability of our contractors to get started immediately on emergency repairs so we can keep our roads open and safe for Gwinnett motorists,” Allen said.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Manholes Being Used for Illegal Dumping

Gwinnett County is asking for help from the public to catch people who are prying up sewer system manhole covers to dump various kinds of waste.

“People have been dumping everything from grease and chemicals to septic tank pumping,” said Acting Director of Water Resources Lynn Smarr. “It’s not only illegal but it’s also dangerous for the perpetrators and our employees. We’re asking anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it immediately.”

Residents can call Gwinnett Police at 770.513.5100 or Water Resources at 678.376.7000. Both lines are staffed 24 hours a day. County vehicles are clearly marked and Water Resources employees wear uniforms.

“Tough economic times lead people to do things they wouldn’t normally do,” said Deputy Director Tyler Richards. “We all need to be vigilant to protect public health and safety.”

“As environmental regulations get tighter, we’ve got to be strict about enforcing illegal dumping laws,” added Smarr.
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Briscoe Field: Preliminary Application to Privatize

Gwinnett County is beginning the process to study the idea of privatizing its airport in Lawrenceville. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution that will direct staff to submit a preliminary application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pursuant to the FAA’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program.

Congress authorized the pilot program in 1997 “to explore privatization as a means of generating access to… private capital for airport improvement and development.” Only five airports can qualify under the FAA’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program. Chosen airports would be exempt from repaying federal loans invested in their facilities.

On Thursday, officials issued a Request for Qualifications for a consultant to help prepare a preliminary application to the FAA. If the resolution is approved on Tuesday, the County will select a consultant next month and will submit a preliminary application to the FAA to express interest in the program. The preliminary application will identify the project objectives, describe the proposed process and timetables, and supply current financial and operations statements, but would not commit the County to proceed with a final application. The study process will help the board decide if privatization and eventual commercialization of Briscoe Field is in the best interest of Gwinnett County. The FAA must accept the preliminary application before the County can proceed with the process.

Board Chairman Charles Bannister said, “We are just beginning a lengthy procedure that will include a thorough public involvement process in addition to environmental and economic studies as we move forward. The final application would not be submitted for at least a year.”

District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter said, “No matter the outcome of the vote on Tuesday, I am proud of my fellow board members for thinking outside the box and looking for new ways of providing needed services without negatively impacting taxpayers.”

“I will give careful consideration to the resolution on next week’s agenda because of the economic potential associated with privatization,” added District 2 Commissioner Bert Nasuti.

“While I think privatization of Briscoe Field could be the right choice for Gwinnett taxpayers and residents who travel, it is also clear there is a lot of due diligence to take before a final decision can be made,” said District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau. “I am hopeful that commercialization of the airport would encourage more economic growth in our community.”

“The airport lies in my district, so it is important to me that the privatization study will include plenty of opportunities for public input,” said District 4 Commissioner Kevin Kenerly. “Briscoe Field must continue to be a good neighbor to my constituents.”

Briscoe Field has a 6,021-foot runway on 500 acres northeast of Lawrenceville. Improved in 1991, it can handle most corporate jets. Last summer, a private investment group approached the county with a privatization proposal that envisions as many as 10 commercial flights a day.
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