Privatized maintenance of I-95 on Georgia’s coast begins Friday as the Georgia Department of Transportation launches a three-year demonstration program with a Maryland firm specializing in such work.
Roy Jorgensen Associates Inc. was awarded the $6.8 million contract, which includes a possible three-year renewal if the department chooses to continue the outsourcing arrangement.
I-95, which Georgia DOT just finished widening to three lanes in each direction at a cost of $1 billion, stretches 113 miles along the state’s coast – from South Carolina to Florida – and is an extremely heavily traveled corridor. It is used by vacationers and supports significant freight movement to and from Georgia’s state ports in Savannah and Brunswick as well as others along the coast. An estimated 300,000 vehicles travel portions of I-95 each day.
“This is an important project,” DOT Commissioner Vance Smith Jr., noted. “The General Assembly and the State Transportation Board have encouraged us to find an appropriate section of roadway to conduct this type of privatization test. I-95 is a perfect location and we think there is a great opportunity here to save money, free our own employees for other critical work and still keep a high standard of highway maintenance.”
Jorgensen, which has performed similar services on I-95 in Florida for several years, will be responsible for all normal maintenance activities on Georgia’s portion of the roadway, 24 hours a day, every day of the three-year contract term. The company’s duties will include litter and roadway debris removal, mowing, guardrail repair, routine bridge repair, pothole repair, tree trimming, maintenance of drainage features, signage and other traffic-control devices as well as emergency incident response and clearance assistance.
“By federal law, we must first devote our attention to interstate highways,” Georgia DOT State Maintenance Engineer Eric Pitts explains. “That takes a lot of man-hours and the department’s maintenance staff has declined by about a thousand employees in the last decade. This agreement should allow I-95’s maintenance needs to be met while freeing up our staff to work on other state routes along the coast that need attention too.”
Jorgensen has established project offices in Brunswick and Savannah and the department has assigned Larry Barnes, a top engineer who directed much of the I-95 widening, to manage the venture.