On 1,500 feet of a McDonough road, rusted pipes at the end of their life cycle are trying the patience of commuters.

Henry County closed Lake Dow Road in late May between the 110-acre, private recreational Lake Dow North and what community members call “the lagoon” upon discovering three metal pipes about the same age as the nearby subdivisions had corroded.

Lake Dow Road culverts

A view of Lake Dow Road, showing the failed pipes.

The roadblock is south of the Georgia National Country Club and west of the Ola school cluster near the corner of Bethany Road, where long-time restaurant Pilgreen’s Steakhouse remains open.

Deputy County Manager Brad Johnson told dozens of residents at a recent community meeting that caution has to take precedence over a speedy reopening.

“We’re just as concerned as you are about this project and getting it going,” he said Aug. 14 at the Heritage Senior Center. “But the key to it is safety and get it going safely.”

Johnson said the repairs also have to comply with federal regulations.

“We want to do the most economical, safe and efficient job possible to get you guys back to normal,” he said. “That’s our job.”

County contractor and former county employee Wade Stroud of Sandy Springs-based Lowe Engineers said the process is underway but requires a methodical approach, according to data collected by surveyors, even if it temporarily maintains dependence on detours now in place.

He laid out a timeline with the bid for contracts going “out on the street” the week starting with Labor Day.

“By the end of September, we’ll have a bid and a contract selected,” Stroud said. “Once the notice to proceed is granted to the contractor, it’s going to be 45 days.”

He said it is “plenty of time” to complete the project.

Weather dependent, the best-case scenario is the end of November, “most likely before Jan. 1,” Stroud said, to reopen the road.

It may depend on which option for the replacement culverts—bottomless or pre-fabricated—gains the county’s vote.

Once finished, the road—essentially a bridge over the two bodies of water—will be about 8 feet higher than it is now.

Affected are about 1,340 homes in the lake’s basin area and 300 in Lake Dow Estates, Stroud said.

Tamika Baugh-Allen, president of the Clearwater Pointe homeowners association northwest of Lake Dow, said at the meeting that the road closure is affecting McDonough “significantly,” including school bus routes.

“There need to be some other measures in place until this issue is resolved,” she said about traffic control and extra lanes. “I applaud your efforts for safety. That’s super-important, because I don’t want to fall in the water, but there needs to be a sense of urgency.”

In response to another attendee’s question, Stroud said stopgap measures to reopen the road will not suffice.

Stroud said a temporary fix can cost about $250,000 but will not offset the main culvert, a 24-inch pipe that failed.

Lake Dow Road failed culvert

The failed culvert on Lake Dow Road.

He also cautioned against moving the barricades, as one resident said she has seen garbage truck personnel do to avoid the detour, calling it “playing a dangerous game with fate.”

Lake Dow Property Owners Association president Fred Brennan supported the long-term plan.

“I don’t see anything’s been dragged out at all. It just takes time. It takes time to do it right,” he said.

Johnson said the road shares traits with others in the county.

“Our infrastructure is inadequate,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a plan in place for our existing infrastructure. Everybody wants ‘new, new, new,’ but we also gotta to take care of what we have.”

He also said the county will update residents through its social media.

Information: 770-288-7319 or www.co.henry.ga.us/Departments/S-Z/SPLOST

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