In the recent story, "Coomer, Ledford seeking first State House term," Christian Coomer was inaccurate when he claimed the proposed $280 million U.S. 411 Connector would lose federal funding if the route was slightly modified. Coomer stated, "To go back and essentially start over on the process to try to adopt a different route would require us to go back through the federal transportation approval process."
First, opponents are not proposing to redo the entire connector project. The route would require a design modification to spare Dobbins Mountain, a 100-acre significant wildlife refuge, historic Dobbins Mine and dozens of homes. Other routes, such as Route G, have significantly fewer hurdles for the state and would save taxpayers nearly $182 million.
Secondly, the Federal Highway Administration will grant modifications to projects -- like the connector -- without requiring the state to redo all of its environmental work. The Georgia Department of Transportation would only have to complete the environmental work for the modified area. For Coomer (and State Senate candidate Barry Loudermilk) to assert otherwise is inaccurate.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the Federal Highway Administration absolutely will not pull the funding for a project merely because it is modified. Projects like this are modified all the time without the funding being pulled. It is irresponsible for any candidate to say otherwise and indicates that they will set policy without concern for the true facts. Holding an office is serious work and our office holders need to do their homework before taking positions.
It appears GDOT is playing these political candidates like a fiddle and/or Route D-VE cheerleader/Congressman Phil Gingrey is making Coomer and Loudermilk fall in line.
Chances are both scenarios are occurring and the residents of Bartow County are not going to receive honest representation from their newly elected leaders.