When DeKalb County voters passed the penny SPLOST in November, each incorporated city had to figure out who was going to coordinate their SPLOST projects and provide the expertise to keep the projects on track.
For the City of Tucker, the decision was easy.
Ken Hildebrandt has been Tucker’s City Engineer since 2016, working with other engineers and developers to ensure that projects are constructed to meet city and state guidelines. Over the course of a nearly 30-year career, the Georgia Tech graduate has done engineering work in the private sector, as well as in five different cities around Metro Atlanta. He enters Tucker’s SPLOST process knowing the City faces some obstacles.
“Our overall road conditions are poor,” Hildebrandt explains. “One of the biggest challenges is that $32 million sounds like a lot of money, but when you look at the condition of our roads, simply bringing them up to an acceptable level is going to take a lot of money.”
Hildebrandt would know. During his 16 years as City Engineer for Smyrna, he oversaw that city’s SPLOST, a five-year, $43 million fund. He says he learned valuable lessons about the need to be proactive, not just reactive, with SPLOST money.
“You want to balance repaving with other transportation needs to improve safety, as well as operational improvements to your corridors,” Hildebrandt says.
While advising the Mayor and City Council on SPLOST, Hildebrandt has also been working in preparation for the City’s first-ever Transportation Master Plan, a six-month process to study the immediate needs and long-range goals of how people get around in Tucker. There will be ample opportunity for the public to get involved, which Hildebrandt says is a necessity.
“When I was in Smyrna, one of the big projects we did was the Spring Road corridor. The initial concept was to do two lanes in each direction with a reversible center lane. That was not acceptable to the citizens. So, we redesigned that project for a boulevard with a landscaped center median, heavy streetscaping and a multi-use trail. It was a collaboration with the community and you know what? It was much better than the original plan.”
The Transportation Master Plan was put out to bid and should be awarded by a vote of the Mayor and City Council at their meeting on April 9. A stakeholder committee will then be appointed, followed by several public meetings to gain input.
“We want to be forward-thinking,” Hildebrandt explains. “We need to prioritize the type of projects that will shape the City of Tucker now and into the future.”
The man guiding those efforts into the future has hit the ground running and he’s ready to help change the driving experience around Tucker.