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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News flash: there are lots of metal plates in Atlanta's roadways

An internal city audit has confirmed what we already knew: Atlanta's roadways are in shit shape. This is thanks, in no small part, to the Department of Public Works, the city agency that's supposed to permit and then keep track of those awful metal plates that utility companies slap over the cuts they make in the pavement. They're also supposed to make sure said companies actually fix the cuts they make — within five days of completing their work.

When we ran a story about the plethora o'plates back in January, Public Works spokesperson Valerie Bell-Smith was a little bit cagey and ultimately didn't get back to us with all of the information we'd requested (which I'd assumed was because our fact finding was taking place simultaneous to the Public Works nightmare that was Snowpocalypse 2011).

But it might've been because they just didn't have the information. From the AJC:

Sloppy paperwork and a lack of oversight by the city department responsible for roads have been blamed for a proliferation of metal plates on Atlanta streets and costly legal claims the city has paid for damage to cars.
In a 32-page report released last week, auditors found the Department of Public Works, the division in charge of permitting and inspecting city road work, had no way of tracking the work or companies responsible for making repairs.
[Auditor Leslie Ward said], "“There is no real program here, because we are not enforcing our own requirements. The city has no idea what the utility companies are doing to the streets, because we have nothing to tell us what they are doing.”

Yikes. It also appears that we vastly under calculated the amount of money the city paid out to people whose cars are damaged by the plates, which the audit says was $218,000 in 2010. Our review records indicated that city council had approved a little over $14,000 for plate-related citizen claims last year.

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