Cobb County Government

Board of Commissioners

lee tChairman Tim Lee

2016 was an incredibly successful year. The growing tax digest, job creation, private investment in Cobb’s economy and Cobb County’s conservative fiscal management practices helped the Board of Commissioners have the lowest general fund tax rate in 15 years, while focusing on services that matter most. Cobb County ended 2016 with the lowest tax rate of all the core counties in metro Atlanta.

Cobb’s strong leadership and smart budgeting policies are recognized. For the 20th consecutive year, Cobb County earned a Triple AAA bond rating. We are one of only 40 counties in the United States to hold this prestigious rating.

Public safety is paramount in every community. The men and women who risk their lives daily to protect ours make Cobb County the greatest and safest place to be. It is because of this courage and commitment that the Cobb County Board of Commissioners made an unprecedented investment in Public Safety. Cobb continues to add sworn officer positions while implementing policies and practices that have recruitment and retention in the police department. 2016 marked the year that the Cobb Fire Department received the highly-coveted Class 1 ISO rating held by less than 1 percent of departments in the entire country.

Cobb’s economy is booming. Thousands of jobs were created or retained and more than $250 million of private investment was made in 2016. The Battery Atlanta, a city unto itself, is taking shape right before our eyes.  Six hundred residences are under construction, the Roxy is built, ComCast headquarters and the Omni are nearly complete, an additional 80,000-square foot office building is constructed and fully leased and dozens of world class restaurant and retail establishments will be ready for Opening Day in April. Five additional class A office towers are under construction in the Cumberland area and two more have been announced.

The Atlanta Blaze kicked off its inaugural season as Cobb’s own major league lacrosse team. The major league training facilities and headquarters being built by Atlanta United will be complete in time for the 2017 season. SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves opens in March. The Braves moved in to its new headquarters and Braves’ nation is excited about a strong line up in a world-class ballpark, right here in Cobb County.

I am honored to have played a role in Cobb’s successes over the past six years. We wrapped up 2016 in a strong position that is enviable among our peers. I am certain that Cobb will continue to make progress in 2017 and for years to come. 

 

 
birrell jCommissioner JoAnn Birrell

District Three

As we look forward with anticipation of what 2017 will bring, I would be remiss not to reflect on 2016 and our accomplishments.

The District Three redevelopment list originally contained 17 blighted properties in 2013. In three short years, we have reduced the list to two properties. We have lured businesses such as QuikTrip, Stone Summit, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Movie Tavern and Waffle House to Canton Road, Busbee Parkway, Sandy Plains Road and other areas of the district. I am grateful to these companies and many others for their investments in these properties. 

Along those lines, we continued the successful and informative “How to do Business with Cobb” seminars. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and generosity of Purchasing Department staff and a partnership with Keep it in Cobb, attendees can learn how to become a vendor with Cobb County Government and the Cobb County School System.  Twice a year, small business owners can meet department representatives, network with one another and establish working relationships that provide services for the county and taxpayers.

One of the most important services we can provide to our residents, businesses and visitors is a safe environment in which they can live, work and play.

Public safety holds a special place in my heart. This year, the Northeast Cobb Business Association, of which I'm a charter member, held its second annual 5K9 run/walk race. Last year, the organization raised money for a new K9 for the Cobb County Police Department to replace Diesel. This year, the organization raised $15,000 toward the purchase of a 10-month-old Hanover Hound for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. This K9 is currently in training and will be named soon.

Cobb has one of the largest veteran populations in Georgia. I appreciate the sacrifices of our military veterans to secure our freedoms. This year, I launched Superior Pets for Patriotic Vets.  This initiative pairs pets in the Cobb County Animal Control shelter with Armed Forces veterans. Superior Plumbing sponsored the adoption fees for 50 veterans to select their new best friends and for 50 cats and dogs to find their new forever homes. Two adoption events will be held in 2017 for veterans. Thank you to Superior Plumbing for sponsoring this program.

In an attack on a recruitment center in Chattanooga, Marine Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells was killed. Skip grew up in District Three and attended Bells Ferry Elementary School, Daniell Middle School and Sprayberry High School. He spent many hours in Bells Ferry Park. In his honor, Bells Ferry Park is now renamed Lance Corporal Squire “Skip” Wells Park.

The new home of the Braves and the development of SunTrust Park is on time and on budget.  Home plate has been moved and the topping off ceremony is complete. We anxiously await opening day!

Since voters agreed to purchase Mabry Park in 2008, there have been challenges to make it come to fruition. This year, we broke ground at Mabry Park. The master plan will soon become a reality and road construction will begin in the spring. I appreciate the Mabry family, the Friends of Mabry Park, and many others for their support. We could not have done any of it without you.

The Town Center Community Improvement District is an integral partner to the county, Town Center Mall, businesses and Kennesaw State University. In addition to transportation projects, the CID is launching Aviation Park. The aviation-themed park is located at the corner of Barrett Lakes Boulevard and Cobb Place Boulevard, adjacent to the end of the Cobb International Airport runway. It will be completed in 2017. Aviation Park adds to the expansive trail network in Cobb County.

Kennesaw State University is a boon to the county. In only its second year, the KSU Owls football team had another successful season.  When football is not in session, the school offers events for friends and families throughout the year from food truck festivals to Owl-O-Ween.  We are fortunate to have world-class education and entertainment so close to home.

The bridge across Interstate 75 and in the KSU complex is a part of the Skip Spann Connector.  It is Cobb County’s first lighted bridge. It not only beautifies road sections, the bridge increases safety for pedestrians and bikers and is expected to reduce traffic congestion at the I-75 and Chastain Road interchange by nearly 20 percent. The bridge was designed by engineering students that incorporated the twin peaks of Kennesaw and Little Kennesaw mountains.

When elected officials have a congenial working relationship, it can serve to benefit the county.  Thank you to the Women Elected Representatives of Cobb for another great year of networking and congeniality. Congratulations to newly elected judges, councilwomen and other elected officials. I look forward to working with you.

As you can see, 2016 was a very productive year. None of this would have been possible without residents and businesses agreeing to new projects to enhance the county through the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Cobb County employees work tirelessly each day to bring value to our taxpayers. The tagline for Cobb County is “Expect the Best.” I am blessed to say our employees are the best!

I look forward with anticipation to the opportunities that 2017 will bring. With the redrawing of district lines, I no longer represent some residents that I have enjoyed meeting and serving over the last six years. For my new constituents, I look forward to working with you.  In 2017, we must endeavor to work together with the new chairman and fellow commissioners to ensure Cobb County remains a remarkable place to live, work and play.

 

 

Economy

The Tax Assessors and Tax Commissioner’s office submitted the tax digest to the Department of Revenue in July 2016. The 2016 tax digest was the highest digest in Cobb County history at $31.6 billion in property value. This digest also takes us back to “pre-recession” levels in the real estate market. 

This accomplishment shows that the real estate market in Cobb County is strong and headed for more positive growth.

During 2016, the Community Development Agency saw a stabilization in the construction industry where we are now in the “new normal.” Single family building permits and commercial permits were consistent between 2015 and 2016. Film permits--an important industry for the state of Georgia--were also consistent, as we approved 36 permits for filming in unincorporated Cobb County. Zoning and variance cases saw a minor increase between 2015 and 2016.

Community Development staff worked with other county staff to implement a number of regulatory, policy and economic development initiatives in 2016. This includes:

  • Working with the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority on implementation of the redevelopment bond
  • Receiving a federal grant to assist Dobbins Air Reserve Base
  • Creating a code enforcement education program
  • Initiating an online submittal process for business licenses, sign permits and site plan reviews
  • Updating the sign code to be in compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling
  • Working diligently, in association with the Cobb County Fire Marshal’s Office, to review plans and inspect construction for SunTrust Park and the Battery Atlanta
     

A partnership among the Community Development Agency, County Attorney’s Office and Finance Department assisted the Board of Commissioners and South Cobb Redevelopment Authority in implementing the $10 million redevelopment bond for the Six Flags area. In 2016, the Magnolia Crossing apartment community was purchased and demolished. SCRA is working with the private sector to market the site for development opportunities.

The Planning Division was successful in obtaining a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to implement a few items from the Dobbins Joint Land Use Study. The grant provides resources to hire a consultant to develop a 3D digital model that will allow partners to understand aerospace impacts of vertical obstructions on flight navigation around the Dobbins runways, develop a public education campaign and study the impact of light pollution on military preparedness.

Steady development activity has been occurring throughout the county. Community Development and Fire Marshall’s Office staff have diligently worked on the SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta project to review plans, inspect infrastructure, inspect construction and ensure all development occurring is in accordance with the appropriate building and safety codes. Staff has helped maintain an aggressive schedule on this important economic development initiative to be ready for the first pitch in April. The progress made in 2016 is a testament to the fine work and coordination between all parties to keep this project on schedule.

Each month, the Cobb County Purchasing Department conducts an analysis of bid prices to provide a comparison of prices obtained through competitive procurement practices. This process is performed to measure the savings achieved through competitive procurement practices, but is also an indicator of the teamwork and collaboration that occurs between purchasing and county departments.

During fiscal year 2016, the county achieved a savings of approximately $10,289,467 as a result of competitive purchasing.

In 2016, purchasing staff also successfully issued, publicly opened and participated in the evaluation and award of 177 formal solicitations, with a total awarded contract value of $138,469,476. No vendor protests were received during this period contesting the award of a contract.   

 

 

Judicial

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on sign codes that impacts almost all local governments in the nation. In 2016, the County Attorney’s Office and Community Development Agency rewrote Cobb’s sign ordinance to be in compliance with the new judicial requirements. The change removed all content based regulations to ensure issues of free speech are not being impacted.

In 2016, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office became Georgia’s first county-operated adult detention center to successfully complete a national certification program to eliminate sexual assault. The Prison Rape Elimination Act certification puts in place safeguards, reporting procedures and investigative requirements that will ensure the safe detention of county inmates.

Responsible for registering sex offenders, the sheriff’s office has two full-time investigators who routinely check on offenders to verify they are following all legal restrictions. Several times a year investigators and uniformed deputies conduct countywide sweeps of sex offenders in an effort to verify they are not violating the terms of their release. This is an important step in protecting children across Cobb County.

Our Sheriff's Office Reserve Unit, comprised of volunteer sheriff's deputies, provided more than 2,000 hours of service across the community. Our civilian VIP volunteers gave also donated another 4,000 hours of administrative and operational support.

Public outreach is a top priority for the sheriff's office. In 2016, five firearm safety programs were presented to more than 1,000 county residents and 1,300 gun safety locks were distributed at no cost.

Deputies routinely visit local schools to teach safety programs and to encourage trust between our children and public safety personnel.

In response to the alarming increase of active shooter attacks across the country, the sheriff’s office is deploying rifles, ballistic helmets and enhanced body armor to our field operations deputies. This equipment will greatly increase the ability to stop an attack on our most vulnerable places such as schools, churches and other large community events.

 

 

Parks

2016 was another active and productive year for the PARKS team managing projects under the 2011 PRCA SPLOST program, which is now 93 percent complete. We are also well underway with designs and construction planning for projects to be completed under the 2016 PRCA SPLOST program.

To ensure available funding stretches as far as possible, PARKS staff is directly involved in many of the construction activities, ranging from building construction, roof replacements and painting to laser grading and athletic field construction.

The majority of work continues to be in selecting and managing the efforts of a variety of professional architecture/engineering firms and construction contractors, remaining on budget and on schedule. An added challenge is to perform this work safely in our parks with the least possible disruption to the athletic schedules and activities of our users and volunteers.

A few examples of the projects completed during 2016:

Cobb County Civic Center Renovation and Expansion

With a construction cost of $5.628 million, the civic center renovation is one of the signature projects of the 2011 PARKS SPLOST. The existing building has been upgraded to meet modern codes, including a new kitchen to support large events, new break out meeting rooms and expanded restroom capacity.

A major new addition has been constructed at the front of the building, which houses a large pre-function area, new offices and ticketing and a large new meeting room that can be subdivided.  Construction was completed in March 2016.

The parking lots and access roadways were also repaved at a cost of $311,587.79 and new light poles and LED lighting fixtures were installed in the main parking lot at a cost of $106,000.

Sweat Mountain Park Renovation

The renovation of Sweat Mountain Park was completed in August, at a cost of $1.388 million.  The project consisted of the reorientation of several baseball fields into a four-field hub alignment, the renovation of a fifth field, the construction of a new concession/restroom building, improvements at the adjacent dog park and related paving improvements.

Wild Horse Creek Park Renovation and Improvements

Major upgrades to Wild Horse Creek Park began in 2015 with the creation of the Seven Springs Water Park and continued into 2016 with two additional significant projects. The first project involved the construction of a new concession/restroom building and a new maintenance building, the conversion of one softball field into a football field and the renovation of the adjacent existing football field, drainage improvements and the installation of new park-wide water lines to serve domestic and fire protection water needs. The project was completed in November, at a cost of almost $1,863 million.

The second project involved the demolition of the park’s outdated BMX bicycle track and construction of a new state-of-the-art BMX track in the footprint of an underused baseball field. The new location better serves park circulation and also uses existing sports lighting, saving the expense of installing new lighting. The project was completed in October at a cost of $598,822 and will host a nationwide racing event in spring 2017.

Jim R. Miller Park

Two new restroom buildings were completed in April, greatly expanding comfort and access for park visitors. One of the new buildings is located in the plaza near the equestrian arena and the other one is on Camp Road. Construction cost for these structures was $804,205.

Paving and Striping Projects in Several Parks

Repaving of parking lots and access roadways was completed in 2016 at Lions Park/South Cobb Community Center, Wallace Park and Hurt Road Park. Similar projects are underway at Fair Oaks Park, Rhyne Park and Fullers Park, and will be completed early in 2017. New pavement striping was completed in more than 25 parks across the county.

 

Selected Projects Currently Underway or in Planning for 2017

Mabry Park: Construction documents are currently being prepared for Mabry Park and the access roadway connecting the park to Wesley Chapel Road.

Jim R. Miller exhibit hall: Architectural and engineering designs are underway for the addition of a major exhibit hall to replace buildings A and B at the park. In addition, a new maintenance building will be completed early in 2017. 

Conversion of athletic fields to artificial turf: Engineering and planning documents will be prepared to convert Bermuda grass multi-purpose fields to artificial turf surfaces at Huber Soccer Complex (four fields), Mud Creek Soccer Complex (three fields) and Terrell Mill Park (one field).

PARKS main office building: Architectural and engineering plans are underway for the replacement of the main office building on County Services Parkway. Improvements to the associated small engine repair shop are included in this project. 

County-wide parks master plan: A comprehensive master plan for the Cobb County Parks System will be completed in 2017. 

 

 

Public Safety

911

Cobb County 911 Emergency Communications underwent a department reorganization in 2016 to increase efficiency. An assistant director over support operations was also selected.

The salary of communications training officers was increased by five percent, to mirror salaries in the police department and sheriff’s office.

To decrease inefficiencies with ambulance dispatching, a CAD to CAD overlay was purchased.

The NICE system was upgraded to provide victim/complainant voice redaction on 911 tapes subject to open record requests.

To fully support Cobb’s E-911 fund, the Board of Commissioners approved a 25-cent increase to the E-911 surcharge. Cobb was the only law enforcement agency in the state charging $1.25 instead of the $1.50 allowed by the state.

Animal Control

Cobb County Animal Control staff promoted animal adoptions through many events and activities in 2016:

  • Marietta Days Festival in the spring
  • Furever Festival in May
  • Arts, Barks, and Purrs Festival in June
  • Public Safety Block Party in October
  • Furever Festival in November

Animal Control staff also hosted a large animal handling/equine training course for the State of Georgia.

Cobb acquired two new Animal Control vehicles and a new adoption trailer, which is being used to conduct off-site adoptions.

Staff created several themed adoption specials throughout the year, helping to find forever homes for hundreds of animals.

Two of our Animal Control officers were nationally-certified and a detective was nationally-certified as a cruelty investigator.

New kennel cage doors were installed and open dividers were created in the cats room cages, allowing more space for the cats.

Installation of the new food housing unit secured animal food storage at the facility.

Emergency Management Agency

Cobb County operates and maintains 74 outdoor weather sirens to alert the public of severe weather.  This year, one siren was entirely replaced, totaling $22,603.  This project, all parts and complete installation, were paid from Emergency Management Performance Grant funds. 

The central siren activation console in the Emergency Operations Center was in need of a hardware and software upgrade to ensure accurate and timely automated sounding of the sirens in the event of a severe weather event. An additional $13,550 from the county’s 380 Fund was utilized for this project, to include a new computer and the EMA WeatherWarn Siren computer software.

Since the program’s inception, Cobb EMA staff has trained more than 2,000 individuals in the Community Emergency Response Team curriculum. In 2016, 264 residents completed the training.

Expanding the CERT program, efforts in 2016 focused on reaching the deaf community by offering the first CERT class in the United States delivered entirely in American Sign Language.  Cobb County has trained 35 deaf community members in the CERT curriculum and seven CERT instructors are ASL-capable. 

In addition to reaching the deaf community, EMA staff engaged other community members with a total of 15 CERT course opportunities hosted by EMA, civic organizations, faith-based groups and our university partners. The City of Smyrna and the City of Kennesaw are also actively training residents.

EMA gained approval on its Hazard Mitigation Plan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in spring 2016 and the Board of Commissioners approved the plan in November. The process involved substantial coordination and information gathering with all municipalities within Cobb County.

EMA is also partnering with the Information Services Department to implement a Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Plan in 2017 that will allow the county to be better prepared to continue operations during emergency situations. 

To accommodate this undertaking, EMA hosted state-endorsed COOP classes in 2016 for representatives from every department to prepare for their on-site assessments with the vendor.

EMA is a member of the county’s Critical Infrastructure/Key Resources team to conduct security assessments of critical infrastructure.  Site visits are ongoing at key locations within the county. In 2016, site assessments included the new SunTrust Stadium and Six Flags Park, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

EMA also partnered with Cobb and Douglas Public Health to hold senior living workshops with area nursing homes, hospices and other health facilities. The workshops helped provide guidance to these facilities so staff can improve their emergency management plans.  

 

 

Services

The Code Enforcement Division of the Community Development Agency worked with Communications Department staff to create written materials and a public service announcement to educate the public about common code enforcement violations. This is a proactive way to improve quality-of-life in the county and reduce code enforcement complaints through community education.

In 2016, Community Development staff initiated three new online submittal portals, including submittals for business licenses, sign permits and site plans. This allows submittal, payment, comments and revisions to occur electronically without people needing to come to county offices. Staff is committed to continuing efforts to expand online business processes and streamline the ones already in place.

The Elections Department successfully conducted four elections in 2016, including a Presidential Preference Primary and a Presidential General Election that served more than half a million county voters combined.

For the November election, the department offered a total of 11 early voting locations and provided Saturday Voting on two weekends, surpassing the number of options offered in any previous election.

A little more than 79 percent of Cobb’s registered voters cast a ballot in the November election and half of them voted prior to Election Day, either by mail or in-person.

Cobb 4-H staff taught an agriscience curriculum in 18 schools, meeting 73 classrooms/clubs monthly in Cobb County and Marietta schools. Fifth graders were able to gain knowledge by doing hands-on activities pertaining to the 4-H curriculum taught during the one-hour monthly classes.

More than 23,600 students participated in some form of 4-H programming focusing on earth and life science, healthy lifestyles, career preparation and financial literacy. This was a nine percent increase in overall participation.

In-school and after-school programming, community service and community clubs taught leadership development, public speaking, healthy lifestyles and workforce development skills.

Cobb County 4-H focused on providing a new perspective to healthy living by addressing the social and economic wellbeing of youth and adults. The 4-H agent conducted 12 sessions, reaching 59 youth and 381 adults.

Cobb Extension Services staff submitted 1,642 soil tests, 61 water samples and 46 plant samples for disease analysis to the University of Georgia.

Horticulture staff reached more than 22,000 residents through 57 classes and presentations, daily walk-in consultations and phone or written consultations.

Cobb Extension Master Gardeners made more than 35,900 contacts throughout Cobb County, donating more than 20,180 volunteer hours and driving a total of 77,372 miles. The overall value of these volunteer services was $504,239.

Master Gardeners help educate students and guide teachers through workshops. Students from 53 schools across Cobb County are learning about pollinators, growing your own food, healthy soil and composting. Teachers can also request free seeds through a seed bank and the seeds are hand delivered or mailed to schools.

“Plant a Row for the Hungry” is one of five community gardens that are supported by Cobb Master Gardeners financially and through educational activities. This garden produced more than 3,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce that was delivered to Cobb Family Resources every Wednesday during harvest season.

Cobb County Extension staff partnered with Cobb-Douglas Environmental Health Department and Family and Consumer Sciences agents from DeKalb County to offer a nationally-recognized two-day ServSafe® Manager food safety certification program. Receiving ServSafe® Manager certification fulfills the Certified Manager Safety Manager qualification for Georgia’s food regulations.

In 2016, 98 food service professionals attended the Cobb County ServSafe® Manager training. Participants came from full service, quick service, nursing home/assisted living, child care centers, senior centers, personal care homes and limited specialty foodservice such as coffee house and catering services.

Staff also collaborated with Must Ministries to provide an 8-hour ServSafe® Food Handler Certification course for unemployed individuals at several agency locations. This course provided job specific training needed for employment and increased the potential of safe food from food service operations in Cobb County.

Family and Consumer Sciences staff conducted classes in the areas of health and healthy lifestyles, chronic disease prevention, food safety and food preservation as well as providing resources for parenting, child care, financial resilience and healthy, safe and affordable housing. These efforts reached a total of 4,024 individuals.

The Extended Food and Nutrition Program offered a Nutrition Education Series to agencies across Cobb County. This series teaches the nutritional value of foods, reading food labels, MyPlate, cooking on a budget, shopping smart and building a healthy meal for children. The program focuses on single parent families and families facing economic issues with an outreach of more than 75 families.

In 2016, Fleet Management received three major recognitions, ranking number 19 of the 100 Best Fleet’s in North America, 20th Green Fleet in North America and was the first government fleet in Georgia to place in Government Fleet Magazine’s “Notables Fleet’s in North America.” These awards are symbolic of Cobb’s efforts to provide cost efficient services using industry best practices.

Fleet Management staff is committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship, implementing innovative green technology such as the use of propane autogas, burning waste oil for heat, purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles. This proactive approach has saved taxpayers more than $200,000 and has displaced more than 175 tons of CO2 emissions.

 

 

SPLOST

Transportation

In 2016, Cobb County Department of Transportation staff initiated its 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax Program, while concurrently completing projects funded from its 2005 and 2011 SPLOST.

For the 2005 SPLOST, engineering/design has 342 identified projects. Construction has started on 335 projects, with 325 projects reaching completion.

Major projects underway or completed in 2016 include:

  • Cedarcrest Road
  • Circle 75 Parkway drainage
  • Johnson Ferry Road at Sewell Mill Road/Pine Road intersection improvement
  • Hembree Road at Pope High School
  • Hurt Road sidewalks
  • Lower Roswell Road (west)
  • West Sandtown Road
  • Cobb Parkway from Paces Mill Road to Akers Mill Road  

For the 2011 SPLOST, engineering/design has 211 identified projects. Construction has started on 182 projects, with more than 172 reaching completion.

Projects completed or underway in 2016 include:

  • Skip Spann Connector
  • Cobb Parkway/Windy Hill Road intersection improvements and queue jumper lanes
  • Factory Shoals Road
  • Floyd Road
  • Windy Hill Road diverging diamond interchange
  • South Barrett Reliever, phase two
  • Walker Drive extension

In the first year of the 2016 SPLOST Program, engineering/design identified 47 projects. Construction has started on 26 projects, with eight reaching completion.

Major projects completed or underway in 2016 include:

  • Richard D. Sailors Parkway bridge
  • Windy Ridge Parkway bridge pedestrian improvements
  • Cobb Parkway at I-285 westbound off-ramp
  • Spring Road/Circle 75 Parkway

In 2016, the county awarded $26 million for three resurfacing contracts as part of the 2011 and 2016 SPLOST programs. Since October 2011, these contracts have resulted in a total resurfacing of 1,733 streets (560 miles) within the county’s four commission districts. This represents a cumulative investment of $122 million in preserving county infrastructure.

Floyd Road Widening (2011 SPLOST)

This safety and operational improvement project widened Floyd Road, from Veterans Memorial Highway to Clay Road, to accommodate four lanes, adding a divided median, an 8 to 12-foot wide multi-use trail on the west side and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side. The project also added dual left turn lanes from Floyd Road onto Veterans Memorial Highway. This $4.7 million project began in January 2015 and was completed in October 2016.

Cedarcrest Road (2005 SPLOST)

This $3.9 million project widened the existing two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided highway with a raised median from the Cobb County/Paulding County line east to Governor’s Towne Drive. Construction began on this one-mile project in February 2016 and is scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Six Flags Drive (2011 SPLOST)

This $2.1 million project added a raised median along Six Flags Drive, from Factory Shoals Road to Riverside Parkway. The project included realignment of Elsner Road at the intersection of Six Flags Drive, and landscaping of the raised median. The project was completed in December 2016.

Skip Spann Connector (2011 SPLOST)

Construction on the $13 million Skip Spann Connector was completed in March 2016. This project constructed a new bridge over Interstate 75 north of Chastain Road, providing direct access from Kennesaw State University to the Town Center economic activity center. The project reduces daily traffic along Chastain Road at the I-75 interchange, as well as provides congestion relief, improved access from KSU to the Northwest Corridor Managed Lanes access ramps at Big Shanty and the GRTA/CCT park and ride lots and adds much-needed pedestrian and bicycle access between KSU and the stadium.

Windy Hill Road Diverging Diamond Interchange (2011 SPLOST)

This $18 million project consists of operational improvements to the I-75 at Windy Hill Rd. interchange converting the existing traditional interchange to a diverging diamond interchange, which will increase capacity and decrease congestion at the intersections. Construction began in January 2016 and is scheduled for completion in June 2017.

South Barrett Reliever, Phase 2 (2011 SPLOST)

This is the second phase of the three-phase South Barrett Reliever project and consists of constructing a multi-lane roundabout, to include curb and gutter, sidewalks and bike lanes, at the intersection of Barrett Lakes Boulevard, Shiloh Valley Drive and the rear entrance to the Town Center Commons Shopping Center. This $5.4 million project is scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Hembree Road at Pope High School (2005 SPLOST)

This project consists of constructing a safety and operational improvement roundabout for Pope High School, with entering and exiting right-turn, bypass lanes at the currently signalized intersection of Hembree Road and Meadow Drive. Traffic circulation and pedestrian improvements on the school site will facilitate roundabout traffic ingress and egress and improve pedestrian access on campus.  The project began in May 2016 and is scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Cobb Parkway at Windy Hill Road Intersection Improvements (2011 SPLOST)

Improvements at this intersection include the addition of dual left turn lanes and queue jumper lanes on the north and south legs of Cobb Parkway. Dual southbound right turn lanes on the north leg of Cobb Parkway will also be included. In addition, the project will lengthen the existing dual left turn lanes and add a right turn lane on the west leg of Windy Hill Road, while adding a third northbound lane on Cobb Parkway exiting to Terrell Mill Road.  Construction on this $5.3 million project began in September 2016 and is scheduled for completion in spring 2018.

 

In the 2016 SPLOST program, engineering has started or completed design for 47 projects utilizing the following methods: Request for Proposals, Task Order Contracting, Unit Price/Modified Unit Price Contracts and In-House Design.  These projects include drainage repairs, sidewalks, intersection improvements, thoroughfare and mobility improvements, school zone improvements and bridge replacements and rehabilitations projects.

The Traffic Operations division continues its commitment to improving the safety and efficiency of the county’s highway system. In 2016, the county added flashing yellow arrow traffic signals at 30 new intersections, expanding the safety and operational improvement to 64 of the county’s 546 signalized intersections. First implemented in Cobb County in 2013, flashing yellow arrows more clearly indicate to motorists when to yield before making a left turn across traffic and have shown a substantial reduction in crash risk of about 35 percent. The average cost for each conversion project was approximately $15,000 per approach. Funding for the projects was, for the most part, provided by SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs.

The county successfully completed a pilot project to evaluate permanent dynamic speed display signs for traffic calming safety improvements.  Further, the Board of Commissioners approved a policy for implementation to improve roadway safety, for minor collector and local roads and school zones. The signs are now in place on five corridors and in one school zone. The average cost for installation, including both directions, is approximately $10,000 per location. Funding for the project was provided by SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs.

To respond effectively to changes in traffic patterns on thoroughfare roads and provide optimum traffic flow, the county periodically retimes traffic signal systems. In 2016 the Cobb, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, retimed 51 traffic signals on four corridors: Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry Road, Dallas Highway and Floyd Road.

County staff also reviewed and adjusted timing parameters for 46 signals along five corridors in the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System. The SCATS system is operational in the greater Cumberland/Galleria and Town Center areas and provides automatic traffic signal timing adjustments in real time based on actual traffic conditions monitored by a central computer. 

Improvements include adjustments to the system in the greater Town Center area due to traffic pattern changes experienced with the completion of the new Skip Spann Connector. Funding for the corridor retiming projects was provided by GDOT at a cost of about $5,000 per intersection. Funding for the SCATS optimization project was provided by GDOT and SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs at a county cost of $45,000.

In partnership with the City of Smyrna, Cobb expanded the greater Cumberland/Galleria area SCATS adaptive traffic control system to include the Spring Road corridor. Benefits of this project include better traffic signal timing, coordinating traffic signals across jurisdictional boundaries and providing a system that adapts to unpredictable traffic conditions, which are expected, given the proximity of SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta.  This project was funded by the City of Smyrna and Cobb County with $240,000 provided from SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs.

Good traffic signal operations require effective vehicle detection. Cobb primarily uses inductance loop and video technologies for that purpose. To improve operations, the county implemented a pilot project to evaluate the use of radar technology for vehicle detection. 

Following successful completion of the pilot project, Cobb expanded implementation to now utilize radar technology for vehicle detection at 15 intersections. The cost for this upgrade is about $10,000 per approach. Funding was provided by SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs.

Closed-circuit television traffic cameras are an integral component of the county’s Advanced Transportation Management System. The cameras facilitate signal system management, incident management and event management, which improves mobility and minimize traffic delays.  In 2016, staff significantly improved road coverage by adding 27 traffic cameras across the county, bringing the total to 170. Funding for the project was provided by GDOT and SPLOST Transportation Improvement Programs at a cost of approximately $8,000 per location.

 

Information Services

A major Information Services project slated to begin in 2017 is a new data center funded from the 2016 SPLOST. This center which will provide a secure facility and reliable, modern technology infrastructure for all county data and systems and provide redundancy for county systems in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. 

Another SPLOST-funded initiative will be the implementation of a business intelligence tool to enable Cobb departments to collect data from internal systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against the data and create reports or dashboards.

Dashboards will make data readily-available and understandable to decision makers and residents in an interactive, understandable visual format. 

 

Sheriff's Office

With the passage of the 2016 SPLOST, the Sheriff’s Office purchased 25 vehicles that enabled the agency to assign vehicles to the SWAT Team. This will aid with quicker and safer responses to emergency situations across the county.

 

 

Transportation

Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field

Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field continued to see growth in 2016 with assistance of more than $7 million in secured grant funding. Of that funding, $156,813 will be applied to the $211,969 master plan project, which will guide the airport’s development through the next 20 years. It is expected to be completed in summer 2017.

A total of $604,599 was applied toward an $861,053 project to install an approach lighting system to runway 27. The lighting system provides an added visual cue to pilots making an approach to the runway in poor visibility conditions. The project was completed in January 2017.

The amount of $6,306,970 from the Federal Aviation Administration and the State of Georgia will be used for a $6,872,781 project to repair and expand the airport’s north apron. The north apron is the parking ramp for based and transient aircraft. The improvements will maintain a safe environment for aircraft to operate.

Engineering

The 2016-2017 Task Order Contracting RFP was released in January 2016 with the Board of Commissioners approving selected firms in May 2016.  Firms were chosen for five categories which included: Transportation Planning & Environmental Services, Highway Design, Traffic Engineering, Transit and Aviation.  A total of 17 engineering firms were selected for the five categories.

A prequalified list of engineering and associated specialty firms was requested for 2016 -2017.  A total of 78 engineering design firms met qualifications and have been approved to contract business with Cobb County Department of Transportation.

Planning

The Planning Division secured more than $16 million in grant funding from federal and state sources. More than $9.73 million of those secured funding will be used to procure buses, build trails, improve our highways and plan for the future.

Funding highlights include a June 2016 award of $6,532,489 to procure 12 new buses for Route 10X and two buses for the Cumberland Circulator. CobbLinc Route 10X will provide express service from Town Center to the Midtown MARTA station with limited stops at major locations, such as Kennesaw State University. This express service will improve transit options along the I-75 corridor by reducing transfers among existing routes and decreasing travel times.  Service is expected to begin spring 2018.

The Cumberland Circulator creates two new circulator routes within the Cumberland Community Improvement District, which will improve transit access to jobs and key community resources such as SunTrust Park, Cumberland Mall and the Cobb Galleria. Service will begin in March 2017. In addition, the State Road and Toll Authority awarded Cobb County $1.6 million for roadway improvements near Six Flags Over Georgia.

Planning Division staff collaborated with the Georgia Department of Transportation and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Service to identify where $2.2 million in grant funding will be used to improve trails in and around the national park.

In October 2016, CCDOT was awarded $37,975 to educate Cobb County residents about pedestrian safety.  Working as a joint effort with the Safety Village and Public Health, the focus of the education campaign are fourth graders and high school students. 

The Federal Transit Administration Region 4 issued a Finding of No Significant Impact determination regarding the Connect Cobb Environmental Assessment. The Connect Cobb project proposes the addition of arterial rapid transit along US 41/Cobb Parkway. The majority of the ART system would operate on dedicated guideway from the Kennesaw area to Cumberland, beginning at the Kennesaw State University station, with 14 access stations across Cobb County. From the Cumberland area, service would continue to the existing MARTA Arts Center Station via I-75 in existing HOV lanes and city of Atlanta arterials. 

Roadway Maintenance

In 2016, the Roadway Maintenance Division procured $1 million in inclement weather equipment and constructed three new salt and gravel material storage facilities to quicken incident response times. Equipment purchases include three right-of-way tractors, a street sweeper, four pick-up trucks, two chippers, four plow attachments, two spreader hoppers, a brine maker, an herbicide and brine application vehicle and 10 tailgate spreaders.

The division also began using GPS mapping-enabled iPads and laptops to optimize routes for creating and resolving work requests digitally rather than via paper. Roadway Maintenance provided 24-hour responsive services to residents and county departments while maintaining a record free of vehicle accidents and workplace injuries.

Part of the division’s services this year also included a partnership with the sheriff’s office to provide an inmate roadway clean-up crew, which collected more than 45,000 pounds of litter and debris.

Traffic Operations

Cobb implemented an initial Department of Transportation performance dashboard for public review, which can be accessed online on the Cobb County DOT homepage.

In 2015, Cobb assisted motorists by upgrading the public’s ability to view roadway status and traffic information via the Cobb Commute webpage.  In 2016, Cobb County provided even greater access to this traffic information by becoming a government partner in the Waze Connected Citizens Program. The partnership makes Cobb Commute traffic data available to Waze app users and provides motorists with accurate, rapid and mobile access to county traffic information, which in turn, reduces traffic delays.

Utility construction work in right-of-way has increased in the county due to broadband telecommunications expansion and utility pole replacement programs. The county utility group provides needed services to minimize the impacts of utility construction on county roadways, to improve safety, preserve roadway infrastructure and reduce work zone traffic delays. Recent roadway safety improvements include moving 37 utility poles from the clear zone. A total of 1,830 utility permits were issued, and permit fees of approximately $775,000 from telecommunications companies were collected to offset corresponding permit administration and inspection costs.

Transit

In a strategic effort to improve the visibility of Cobb County’s public transportation offerings, the Transit Division rebranded as CobbLinc (formerly Cobb Community Transit or CCT) in early 2016. Thirty-five new CobbLinc-branded and WiFi-enabled buses traverse 17 routes, including the recently modified Routes 10 and 20 as well as the newly-added Route 25.

Operating from the Cumberland Boulevard Transfer Center to MARTA’s Hamilton E. Holmes Station, Route 25 provides increased transit opportunities to south Cobb residents, including paratransit services within three-quarters of a mile of the route for eligible passengers.

The full implementation of an automatic vehicle locator system and a rider information application is expected in 2017. 

In early 2016, Federal Transit Administration staff conducted an on-site financial and program review of the county’s transit system. Staff acted on FTA recommendations and the review is now closed.

Geographic Information System

Using DOT’s road status information system, the Geographic Information System Division automated the department’s weekly travel advisory for construction and closures and provided an XML feed of road events to Waze. This offers residents a more comprehensive picture of traffic conditions in the county.

A two-year implementation plan was developed for the DOT workflow software, Cartegraph Operation Management System. The software went live in April, allowing Roadway Maintenance staff to transition from paper work orders to the use of digital devices in the field.

Story maps for Cumberland area construction projects, the DOT’s Transportation Management Center and the Cobb County International Airport, as well as an updated SPLOST fact sheet and GIS layers for the “What’s In It For Me?” online map were also developed in 2016.

In September, the GIS division received top honors at the Georgia Technology Authority’s Technology Innovation Showcase for the CobbCommute web-based app.

In 2017, snow and ice treatment statuses will be integrated between the operation management system and CobbCommute. GIS staff will also work to display Roadway Maintenance automatic vehicle location information in the management system, improving efficiency of dispatching work trucks to issues.

The operation management system will be integrated with the traffic management center’s BlueTOAD system for automated alerts and requests in 2017.

Street Lighting

The street light program currently provides more than 44,500 street lights throughout Cobb County. Most lights are located within the county’s more than 3,200 street light districts, which collectively serve nearly 118,000 customers. More than 550 new customers were added in 2016. The annual budget for the program in 2016 was approximately $5.6 million. 

Notable achievements in the street light program in 2016 included the continued conversion of high pressure sodium street lights to more energy efficient LEDs. During the year, more than 650 lights were converted including lighting along many major corridors in the Town Center Mall area. 

The area around Town Center also saw completion of the Skip Spann Bridge in 2016 which included 70 new LED light fixtures both on the bridge and adjacent to it. The bridge also contains a signature dual-arch LED lighting element designed to mimic the profile of nearby Kennesaw Mountain. 

The program continues, in partnership with Cumberland CID, installing new lighting in the Cumberland area along many of its corridors. This includes updated street lights and smaller-scale pedestrian lights with approximately 600 new luminaires now in place, most of which are also energy-efficient LEDs.

Upon full implementation, nearly all of the roadways within the Cumberland area will be illuminated with signature, decorative lighting fixtures to enhance the appearance of the area during the day and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians after dark. 

In South Cobb, the county completed installation of the Mableton Town Square lighting where 30 new LED lights were installed to efficiently illuminate the new roads and the gathering space contained within the square.

 

 

Water

The Cobb Water System and its water supply partner, the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority, were able to withstand a historic drought period in fall 2016 with little difficulty. This was due, in large part, to the ongoing success of the water system’s Water Efficiency Program in reducing demand for potable water and thereby stretching limited water supplies.

The program was recognized again in 2016 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the national WaterSense large Utility Partner of the Year. This was the fifth year of the last seven that our program was honored.

Another recognition achieved in 2016 was the Water Supply and Water Conservation Award for the Green Cities Program. This honor was received from the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Water Supply and Water Conservation Program of Excellence STREAM Awards.

The System Maintenance Division also earned a platinum award for outstanding operation in the “Large Utility” category, and all four of the county’s wastewater treatment facilities were recognized with awards for operational effectiveness.

Because of the water system staff’s foresight in developing facilities and success in reducing per capita water demand, available treatment to handle projected flows through at least 2035 is now in place.  As a result, focus is now on renewal of aging distribution, collection and stormwater piping. 

About 125,000 linear feet of deteriorating water piping was replaced during 2016 with limited service disruption.  Several upgrades to wastewater treatment plants are also in progress, including solids handling systems at South Cobb, chemical feed systems at Noonday and warehousing at Northwest.

The South Cobb Tunnel is now fully operation, although work continues on the pump station at its downstream end to improve operational efficiency.  As a result, the Nickajack pump station is now totally off-line and the Sweetwater pump station will also be deactivated in the near future. 

An agreement is currently being negotiated to facilitate the purchase of capacity by the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority in the South Cobb plant, in accordance with regional plans.

While most of the organization’s focus has been on construction, significant progress has also been made in essential systems and programs. A robust asset management system remains an ongoing priority. Consulting services are currently in process to assist with upgrade and inclusion in the asset management system of the treatment plants and their warehouses. 

The water system’s geographic information system continues to grow and provide increased capabilities in conjunction with county efforts. The Maximo Work Order System provides for efficient management and retrieval of work orders.

An additional significant accomplishment of 2016 involves the management transition required by the retirement of several key managers.  The water system has been able to move forward effectively, through a combination of responsibility reassignment and outsourcing. 

It is anticipated that, given the required resources, the Cobb Water System will continue to meet the needs of its customers in an exemplary manner.