Bumpy roads in Bainbridge that need fixing




A bumpy, unattractive intersection on Donalson Street in downtown Bainbridge.
A bumpy, unattractive intersection on Donalson Street in downtown Bainbridge.
A bumpy, unattractive intersection on Donalson Street in downtown Bainbridge.

As the 10th largest county in Georgia, about 650 square miles in size, Decatur County has a lot of roads. Dirt roads in the country, paved roads in the city, it doesn’t matter: you’re bound to come across a bumpy road around here.

Although Decatur County Public Works receives (and answers) a lot of calls about dirt roads in poor shape, especially after storms and flooding, the City of Bainbridge has its share of roadway issues, too.

This post doesn’t intend to lay any blame on the Bainbridge Street Department, because they work hard to patch potholes when they crop up and spend many a hot day in the summer sun resurfacing streets.

But as an advocate for citizens, we think there’s a couple of streets that need a little attention because of how rough of a ride they are.

First, watch this short video to see for yourself what it’s like to drive down Donalson Street, tucked away between downtown Bainbridge and Cheney Griffin Park. Bumpy is an understatement.

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Donalson Street has been on the “fix-her-up” wish list of both citizens and City Council persons for a few years now. I asked Steve Winburn, director of Bainbridge Public Services, about when it might get resurfaced. The good news is that Winburn says he hopes money provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation (through its Local Assistance Road Program, or LARP), will help city crews to resurface Donalson Street “sometime in 2014.”

But the bad news is that Donalson Street will not be easy to fix. Those brown-ish patches I called old asphalt showing through in the video? That’s actually concrete pavement a layer underneath the spotty asphalt surface. While asphalt can be scraped off fairly easily, concrete has to be broken up to re-pave the street correctly,  Winburn said.

 

Water Street awaits potential renovation

Next on our list is Water Street, its western end arguably one of the most historic and picturesque stretch of roadway in Bainbridge. Water Street is home to shops, restaurants, the historic Bon Air Apartments.  Water Street also runs past both Willis Park and the Decatur County Courthouse. But it’s also bumpy to drive a vehicle down these days. Here’s a picture of one of the bad parts:

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Water Street in downtown Bainbridge, between the Courthouse Annex and the Firehouse Center and Harrell Gallery

Now I know what some people might say: “Look at those bricks! That’s the way downtown streets were paved in the early 1900s!” And I admit, there is a certain charm to those bricks, which date back to about 1910 or so. There are a number of people in Bainbridge who want to preserve its history by uncovering its original brick streets, similar to the way Broad Street is in Thomasville, or River Street is in Savannah.

I support historic preservation, too, and have no problems with the bricks’ appearance. It’s just that as it is now, the brick sections of Water Street (some uncovered intentionally in the 2000s as part of a test of how difficult it would be to uncover them without damaging them) are just as bumpy as Donalson Street. They remind me a little of running over an exposed railroad crossing and I would wager are not healthy for your car’s tire alignment.

Admittedly, part of the problem is that there has been little effort by government to smooth out the brick surface by replacing missing / broken bricks or completely removing the asphalt and silt that line the gutterless streets. (A few citizens have organized Water Street cleanup/repair projects, kudos to them.) Broad Street in Thomasville, which has been the focus of several restoration projects, is just as bumpy, however. I’m not sure I would want bricks exposed the whole length of Water Street or other downtown streets; why not just expose the bricks at the crosswalks or use stamped concrete that looks like bricks? That should be a topic of friendly discussion by citizens and City of Bainbridge officials alike before any projects to uncover the bricks proceed.

 

What do you think?

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The Bainbridge Downtown Development Authority and the Main Street program have discussed including the brick restoration as part of a Streetscape project, which are funded by the state government but must go through a lengthy, exacting design and development process. We understand Bainbridge Streetscape III is getting ready to begin soon, and Streetscape IV is in the idea phase. Previous Streetscape projects have given us the nicer sidewalks, benches and crosswalks across a large part of downtown, so hopefully that good work will continue.

One last thing: along with the bumpy roads, let’s fix the parking situation along Water and Broughton Streets in downtown Bainbridge. With cars parked on both sides of the street, there is little room for vehicles to safely pass each other in opposite directions. You can do it, but one of the drivers has to stop or slow down to avoid a game of chicken and we wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the cause of some fender-benders. You can’t really widen the streets without taking away sidewalk space or the edges of Willis Park, so maybe someone with some engineering sense should ponder that for a while.

 

Did you know?

You can use the SeeClickFix feature of the City of Bainbridge’s official website to report potholes, eyesores, safety issues and more and have your concerns directed straight to the appropriate city employee. You can also use the SeeClickFix smartphone app to submit a photo of the issue you’re reporting.

 




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