DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Drive down a road, seemingly any road in DeKalb County, and chances are you will run into trouble.You will find miles and miles of metal grates, cracks, crumbling roads, pot holes, and sinkholes.
The FOX 5 I-team traveled across miles of county roads, and examined county road and drainage documents to see how big of a problem DeKalb is facing.
We found a backlog of 4722 work orders for road and drainage projects. Problems that people report and want fixed.
Problems like the sinkhole in front of Jennifer Hart's house. For three years, Jennifer Hart has tried to get the county to fix the growing sinkhole right in front of her home. She even posted a complaint on Facebook and a video showing how rainwater didn't go down the drain, but down the broken hole.
“If this sinkhole which is what it appears to be, at some point its going to open up. It’s going to collapse, says Hart who is a DeKalb school teacher.
Linda Van Arsdale's front yard looks like a crime scene. She has watched her road drainage problem turn into an ever growing sinkhole seemingly swallowing her side side. She's been fighting with the county to fix it for nearly two years. Well maybe fighting isn't the right word.
“I don't know if it’s fair to say fight, so hard to get a hold of a living person,” says the frustrated long time DeKalb resident.
According to our examination of county roads and drainage records, DeKalb has 464 miles of roads that the county admits by its own standards needs repaving. That means nearly 1 out of every 4 roads in unincorporated DeKalb County.
How does DeKalb stack up to other counties that have road problems? Last year, Gwinnett resurfaced 130 miles, Cobb 65 miles,and Atlanta 50 miles of roadways.Dekalb County resurfaced just 35 miles.
"It's been a challenge. Can't defend it. I apologize to all citizens who have negatively impacted by it,” says new DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.
Thurmond campaigned on fixing DeKalb's roads. He's well aware of the problems and hears the complaints, mostly about potholes. Thurmond says the problem is simple. DeKalb doesn't have enough money. He says the county has never voted for a special option sales tax to fund road work.
But earlier this year the state legislature voted to give DeKalb citizens the option to pay an additional penny in taxes to pay for repaving. Thurmond says the 300 million over five years will allow the county to triple or quadruple how many roads they pave.
“The good news is we are moving in a new direction,” says Thurmond. “There is a pathway forward. It will be a pathway to generate revenue needed to maintain roads in a major urban area.”