City aims to spruce up roadways

Published 2:41 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

People traveling through Bainbridge should begin seeing noticable improvement in the appearance of the city’s highway medians and right-of-ways, according to city officials.

At its Tuesday, April 3, meeting, the City Council approved a $5,800 bid from Riverbend Ford to paint a used school bus the city recently received from the Decatur County Board of Education. The bus will be converted for use with litter cleanup and city inmate transportation. It has been outfitted with a “cage” that secures the bus’ windows and passenger area, Public Safety Director Eric Miller said. It will also bear the Public Safety shield emblem and other markings designating it as a law enforcement-related vehicle.

Public Safety Sgt. Jim Schiffner, who oversees inmate and community work crews for the city, will be joined in the task by Sgt. Gary Welch (formerly a BPS assistant fire chief), who will use the new bus for an additional work crew, according to City Manager Chris Hobby.

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In 2007, the City Council gave six used Public Safety patrol cars to the Board of Education in return for a used school bus. The school system’s resource officers drive the former patrol vehicles, all Ford Crown Victorias.


Overall cleanup effort

Adding a second work detail is just a part of the City of Bainbridge’s overall plan to improve the appearance of city streets, medians and right-of-ways, according to Public Services Division Director Steve Winburn, who spoke to the City Council at its annual retreat in March.

Last year, the city received permission from the Georgia Department of Transportation to take over maintenance of right-of-ways on state routes, such as U.S. 84/GA 38, GA 97 and U.S. 27/GA 1.

Previously, the city had just been responsible for interior medians that had landscaping, such as the planting of crepe myrtles on the U.S. 27/84 bypass, Deputy City Manager Dustin Dowdy said this week. Using the stretch of U.S. 84 East between Bainbridge College and Bainbridge High School as an example, Dowdy explained the right-of-ways there include the interior median, which is about 20 feet in width, as well as about 25 feet of ground to either side of the highway.


Mitigating flash flooding

Winburn, who had worked with city officials through his job at the Georgia DOT before being hired by the city itself, said he had noticed storm water flooding issues. As a result, Winburn’s team — which includes the Street Department and Water and Sewer Departments — have “split up” the city into four areas. The goal is to make sure that storm water drains are cleaned out regularly and are free of obstruction, such as leaves and yard clippings, Winburn said. He said city employees have identified the areas with the highest probability of flash flooding.

The city also uses a street sweeper as part of a campaign to keep yard debris out of curbs and gutters. The Street Department is also tasked with removing silt from drainage ditches and retention ponds as needed, Winburn said.

The Street Department has taken over exclusive mowing, weedeating and edging responsibilities for highway medians and right-of-ways, in partnership with Bainbridge Leisure Services, which will handle landscaping duties, Winburn said.

“Making our right-of-ways a priority will make a difference in how citizens and visitors view our city,” Winburn said.