County Commissioner takes DOT district secretary to task

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM.

CHIPLEY — County Commission Chairman Alan Bush said actions taken by FDOT District 3 Secretary Tommy Barfield were “bullying tactics” punishing the county because a commissioner had asked questions about a planned bridge project.

Two Department of Transportation representatives — Jason Peters, director of transportation development, and Regina Battles, program management administrator — appeared before the Washington County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday to ask the board if the county wanted to proceed with a federally funded project to replace a 16-foot bridge on Gainer Road.

The project was scheduled by the DOT to have been bid out on Thursday, but it was held at the order of Barfield after Commissioner Charles Brock contacted the district secretary to ask why the bridge projects were not eligible to receive bids from local engineers.

Peters told the board that the bridge replacement was being held until the DOT heard from the county whether or not it wanted the bridge replaced.

“Wait a minute, I’m confused,” said Commissioner Todd Abbott. “This is the first I am hearing about this board having any concerns about a bridge project.”

“I am probably the one who started this,” Brock said. “I had questions about putting a bridge on a dead-end road that nobody lives on.”

Brock said he noticed that engineering expenses on the proposed small bridge projects were nearly as much as the construction costs, and he noticed that it was the same two or three engineering firms who were getting all the work. Brock contacted Barfield and asked why local firms were not allowed to bid on the projects.

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