Exec. committee announces TSPLOST draft project list
by Matt Shinall
Aug 19, 2011 | 2734 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 2012 vote will be had on a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax supplementing diminished Georgia Department of Transportation funds for local road projects.

Before the tax comes up for vote, area leadership has met to begin determining a list of projects to be included. Discussions began with an executive committee consisting of county commissioners from the 15 counties comprising the northwest Georgia transportation region.

Eleven Bartow County projects made the regional draft list, splitting more than $1 billion in estimated funding. Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown admits he was less than pleased with early proceedings until the committee agreed to a formula presented by Brown in an attempt to lend structure to the decision-making process.

"Finally, we came up with a formula, a formula based on sales tax and population, which made a big difference for Bartow County," Brown said. "Before the formula, we had about three or four roads on there. ... I think it's a good list and I think the people will be pleased with [it]."

With the use of a formula to divide projects among participating counties, proceedings flowed smoothly.

"I was very impressed with how the representatives, Commissioner Brown being one, ... just got around the table and worked through every issue and they worked through it very well," said Jeff Lewis, GDOT board member. "I want to emphasize how well it went because there were some regions around the state where things didn't go so well, but I was delightfully surprised with how well the discussion went.

"Based on what I could determine, it seems pretty fair for the individual counties involved. ... There's give and take in any process like that but I feel the region we're in should be very pleased with how this project list was derived."

Now that an initial list has been compiled, a larger committee of mayors and commissioners will further discuss the proposal. The Northwest Georgia Regional Roundtable public meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.

"The bulk of the work is done by the executive committee and when you look around the state at how contentious that process was in a lot of other regions, the fact that ours was done in an efficient and positive manner, I think it just speaks to the leadership of those who were on the executive committee of the transportation roundtable," said Matt Santini, Cartersville mayor and roundtable committee member.

Santini noted his confidence in the proposed list and feels many of the projects could be given a second chance after finding voter approval once before.

"The local community put in SPLOST dollars to get those projects moving and then they got stalled because of the tight revenue. To see those included on this list, I think, is a good thing. I think we've got a lot of good projects on the list," Santini said.

Currently, the vote for a 1-cent transportation sales tax will come up in July, however, the General Assembly is discussing the possibility of moving that date to the November election in order to capitalize on a larger turnout, an option Lewis favors.

"That is good from the perspective that it gives the optimum voter turnout, and this is such an important issue that every voter possible needs to come out and express their view on that," Lewis said.

The 11 projects making the cut for Bartow are: the Cass-White Road at Interstate 75 interchange reconstruction; Douthit Ferry Road from Old Alabama Road to West Avenue; Emerson Old Alabama Road widening and improvement from SR 100 to SR 293; northwest coordinated rural/human services transit project; partial relocation of SR 20 from I-75 to SR 61/U.S. 411; Richards Road CSX railway crossing safety improvements; SR 140 from Oothkalooga Creek to SR 3/U.S. 411; SR 140 improvements from SR 53 to Oothkalooga Creek; Stamp Creek Road at U.S. 411 intersection improvements; U.S. 411 Connector; and improvements on SR 3/U.S. 41 from SR 113/Main Street to SR 61.

To view a complete list from the northwest Georgia transportation region, visit www.tiny.cc/GDOLdraft.