The city of Dunwoody has approved a $1.7 million contract for long-planned intersection improvements at Mount Vernon Road and Vermack Road — about $600,000 more than originally anticipated.

Tree clearing has taken place at the intersection and crews are nearly finished moving utilities, including a few utility poles, Public Works Director Michael Smith told the council at its May 7 meeting.

More than 100 trees were recently cut down at the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Vermack Road as part of an intersection improvement project that dates back to 2014. (Dyana Bagby)

He said the original cost estimate from last year was about $1.3 million, with another $60,000 to go toward the tree clearing. Numerous stumps are now at the intersection and some residents have complained about the removal of some 150 trees that once buffered their homes from the busy road.

The city had about $1.2 million budgeted for the intersection project, Smith said, but additional funding needed to pay for the contract to CMES can come from a fund balance from a recent project on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.

“Is it time to look at our project estimates? Costs are jumping around,” Councilmember Lynn Deutsch asked. She noted rising construction costs throughout the area and asked whether this would affect all city projects.

Smith said the Public Works Department regularly updates the estimates for projects, “but costs are going up,” he acknowledged.

The city is also required by state law to accept the lowest bidder, Smith said.

The intersection improvements are being made in conjunction with a DeKalb County water main repair at the intersection. That project is expected to cost about $400,600 and was slated to be approved by the DeKalb County Commission next month, Smith said. The city’s intersection improvements will begin once DeKalb is done with its work.

Mayor Denis Shortal said he and the council heard some concerns about CMES.

“We’ve checked on the winning bidder through several channels” including the Georgia Department of Transportation and the governments of Cobb County, Alpharetta and Avondale Estates, he said.

“We got some good responses, some OK responses,” he said. Cobb County and GDOT officials said CMES finished their projects on time.

“Some other reports are not so glowing, but nothing disqualified them,” Shortal said. “But we are required to take the low bid.”

Councilmember Terry Nall asked about a timeline for the project’s completion and if the water main repairs would delay the road improvements.
The project could start next month and then take 10 months to complete, Smith said.

The tree clearing at the intersection occurred in February and was the first step to completing the intersection improvements that date back to 2014.

The project includes adding sidewalks, concrete islands for pedestrian safety, bike lanes and additional turn lanes on both roads.

When complete in approximately 10 months, the intersection will have three left turn lanes — one in each direction on Mount Vernon Road and one on Vermack Road. A sidewalk will also be built on Manhasset Drive to accommodate the overflow parking area for Dunwoody High School at Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church.

Smith said temporary stone paths for pedestrians will be installed to the high school from the church while work is taking place to ensure pedestrian safety.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.