Several days after it first appeared without warning and clogged up a busy stretch of Peachtree Road in Buckhead, a broken crane was carted off late Tuesday night.
The crane was moved in sometime over the weekend for work on a construction project, shutting down the northbound lanes of Peachtree at Pharr Road and forcing northbound traffic onto the southbound lanes. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, a Rhode Island-based construction company never got approval for it to be there.
To make matters worse, GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale told WSB Radio that the machinery was inoperable for a large part of Monday and Tuesday.
“No time is the right time of the year to shut down Peachtree to this extent, but certainly not during the holidays when people are trying to get things done,” Dale said in an interview with the radio station. “This is not our preference, and we apologize.”
Gilbane Building Company, a contractor working on a high-rise apartment project for developer Preserve Properties, had applied for a permit for road closures, and it was initially denied, Dale said.
“We needed more information, we needed a better traffic plan,” she said. “They never came back to us with that and now we have a crane in the middle of Peachtree.”
Because the permitting process is free and typically painless, Dale said developers don’t balk at GDOT’s orders very often. It’s not unprecedented, but it is “highly uncommon,” she said.
GDOT was first alerted to the problem at the end of the weekend after several drivers complained of heavy delays while Christmas shopping in the busy commercial district. Some business owners told Channel 2 customers were having trouble accessing their shops at all.
The added holiday traffic on the road made the problem even worse, Dale said.
At this point, she said GDOT is “looking at what tools we have between ourselves and the city as far as repercussions go for shutting down a major thoroughfare through the city of Atlanta without a legitimate permit.”
Fines are likely, she said.
The developer told GDOT on Monday they were waiting on a part for the crane coming in from outside the country, which was holding up their compliance.
Gilbane Building Company issued a statement Tuesday afternoon to Channel 2.
“We understood our subcontractor had filed the right paperwork and received the proper approvals to have a crane in that location,” spokesman Wes Cotter said. “We are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Police Department to complete the necessary and safe removal of the crane as soon as possible.”
By 11 p.m. Tuesday, crews had removed the crane and the lanes were reopened, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.
Ideally, Dale said the developer would have come back with a better proposal for traffic control and the agency likely would have recommended overnight construction to alleviate some of the congestion through Buckhead.
It is not known when construction on the project will resume.
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