Letter to the Editor: GDOT Lacks Concern for Environment, Taxpayers
A $3 million fine GDOT and its contractor must pay for the pollution of seven trout streams on two road projects is alarming, even more so than other environmental fines the agency has incurred, a Cassville resident says.
A Cassville resident says the Georgia Department of Transportation has little regard for the environment and taxpayers, citing mistakes in highway construction and the pollution of streams, both resulting fines for which taxpayers foot the bill.
In a recent interview, GDOT spokesperson David Spears said his agency was only trying to “do the right thing,” when asked about environmental fines costing taxpayers $35,000 (for erosion control mistakes on the U.S. 27 road project). If you thought that was bad, hold on to your wallets.
The media has reported that GDOT and its contractor must pay nearly $3 million to settle allegations that they polluted seven trout streams on two road projects in northeast Georgia. The Environmental Protection Agency reported it was one of the largest federal fines of its kind ever assessed under the Clean Water Act. GDOT’s failings are causing taxpayers to pick up its astronomical tab – yet again.
Locally, I can only imagine the environmental issues and potential for fines from GDOT’s costly, environmentally intrusive route for the U.S. 411 Connector – which crosses Dobbins Mountain, a conservation easement, local watersheds, a historic mine site and more. Route D-VE will cost taxpayers millions more than other cheaper, more efficient and less environmentally risky alternate routes. For example, GDOT’s previous route of choice, Route G, would save taxpayers more than $100 million.
Spear also admitted that road construction in northwest Georgia is “difficult.” If GDOT (reported to be the largest violator of state environmental erosion rules) cannot complete road projects in difficult terrain without incurring massive fines, how can we trust them to successfully clear all of Route D-VE’s environmental and geological obstacles?
With fines of $1.5 million and $1.3 million in additional mitigation costs, it is clear that GDOT has little regard for the environment – and more importantly, for taxpayers. If Spear and GDOT really want to do the right thing, they would select an alternate connector route that saves taxpayers millions of dollars in construction and legal costs, and reduces the potential for environmental fines and damages. For once, our wallets will thank you.