Highways are showing signs of growing pains amid Georgia’s budget crunch.
Along Ga. 316 near Lawrenceville, waist-high grass waves in the wind on state right of ways. While DeKalb and Fulton counties have kept their roadside mowing schedules, county roads in Cobb and Gwinnett counties are a little more scruffy thanks to reduced roadside maintenance.
The conditions have prompted some Gwinnett community improvement districts to expand mowing programs of their own.
“That’s the first thing people see when they’re driving through an area,” said Chuck Warbington, executive director of the Gwinnett Village CID. “People make decisions based on first impressions.”
Gwinnett Village does weekly right-of-way and sidewalk maintenance from April to August, including mowing, edging and litter cleanup. It already maintains 12 miles of state and 14 miles of county right of way, Warbington said. He expects that to increase.
The Gwinnett Place CID maintains all the right of ways within its boundaries, including 10 miles of county roads, said Joe Allen, executive director. Likewise, the Evermore CID includes a 7-mile stretch of U.S. 78/Ga. 10 in its roadside maintenance, said Jim Brooks, executive director.
Gwinnett County is saving about $250,000 by reducing its mowing schedule during the spring-summer growing season to twice along road shoulders and three times along sidewalks and medians. Kim Conroy, deputy transportation director, said the agency will save an additional $25,000 in reduced overtime.
Conroy said crewmen are instructed to drive their areas and report any instances where tall grass impedes safety.
Sugar Hill maintains its state and county right of way through an arrangement forged six years ago.
But Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said his city has its hands full taking care of its own property and can’t afford upkeep for state and county right of way.
Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps said his city is not considering taking on more right-of-way maintenance at this point.
For now, he said, “we’re just writing nasty letters if they’re violating our quality-of-life ordinance.”