$1.98 billion in road projects on 10-county Three Rivers wish list

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A proposed interchange on I-85 at Poplar Road is among the projects listed.

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com The counties and cities of the 10-county Three Rivers Regional Commission — including Coweta — have submitted $1.95 billion worth of projects for the wish list of projects to be funded by a proposed regional Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. March 30 was the deadline for all counties and their municipalities to submit proposed projects for the “unconstrained investment list.”
If approved by voters in 2012, the 1 percent, 10-year tax is expected to raise about $1.1 billion. Of that, $835 million would be available to build projects on the list, and the remaining $278 million would be distributed to the counties and cities as discretionary transportation funding. At the technical committee level “staff really wrestled” with how much of the needed funding for each project should be requested from the TSPLOST, said Robert Hiett of Three Rivers, staff liaison for the roundtable. “Should we put in 100 percent or 80/20 or 50/50? Some people took different approaches to that,” Hiett said. He said the total project costs “could actually go down as the executive committee works with” the Georgia Department of Transportation over the summer. There were a total of 271 projects submitted for consideration, Hiett said. The total cost of all those projects, including local, federal, or other funds as well as TSPLOST, is estimated at $2.6 billion. The next step is for GDOT to review the submitted projects and make sure they meet the criteria. The DOT will likely also add some new projects to the list. Then the DOT is set to deliver a final unconstrained list by June. The roundtable executive committee, comprised of five roundtable members and three legislators, will then work to pare down the list to what can actually be funded with the expected revenues. To make that job easier, the technical committee has asked the staff to get together with the counties and cities and take a look at the submitted projects. “And then to assume that not everything is going to get funded, and to try to come up with a short list of really high-priority projects,” Hiett said. “We’ll talk a little about that” at next week’s technical committee meeting to “see how that is going,” Hiett said. He hopes to have a prioritized list from each county to submit to the executive committee by May. “July is probably kind of where the rubber meets the road,” Hiett said. “We’ll be getting close to our deadline at that point. Decisions will have to start being made about matching projects with funding.” A draft constrained list is due to the DOT by early August, and should be returned to the executive committee by Aug. 15. Then the roundtable has two months to have at least two public hearings and vote on a final project list. The final project list must be approved by Oct. 15 or a “gridlock” will be declared and the counties in the region will be punished. The punishment comes in the form of a required 50 percent match for certain transportation projects paid for with state or federal money. Currently, that required match is 10 percent. If the roundtable approves a list but the voters turn down the TSPLOST, the required match will be 30 percent. “I don’t anticipate gridlock. I really don’t,” said Maurice Raines, who is chairman of the roundtable and chairman of the Upson County Board of Commissioners. However, “if it passes by one vote, I’m expecting those that didn’t support it to support it,” Raines said. “Bar none, that is the way it has got to be.” Coweta’s total request for TSPLOST funds is $339,541,045. The only county that requested more was Upson, with $360,244,475. The third-highest was Carroll, with $325,522,470. Spalding County requested $296,521,283. Most of the other counties requested between $140 million and $198 million. Pike and Meriwether counties, however, requested very little. Pike’s request was for $18,429,545, and Meriwether’s was for $11,334,000. Some of Coweta’s submitted projects are: • Completing the Newnan Crossing bypass from Turkey Creek Road to Ga. Hwy. 16 East as a four-lane road. Associated projects include the four-laning of Hwy. 16 from the bypass to U.S. 29, and intersection improvements at 16, 29, and Pine Road. • Widening of Ga. Hwy. 154 from U.S. 29 to Ga. Hwy. 54. The project includes four-laning and a 10-foot hard surface multi-use path. • The Poplar Road interchange on Interstate 85. • The proposed I-85 interchange at Amlajack Boulevard. • Extension of Amlajack Boulevard to serve the proposed new interchange on I-85 north of Bullsboro Drive. • Extensions of Hollz Parkway and Edgeworth Road to serve the proposed new interchange. • Eight intersection improvements and six bridge projects. • Capital and operational costs for the Coweta County Transit System. • HERO motorist service. • A multi-use path along Hwy. 34 East from Lakeside Way to the Fayette County line. • Three projects at the Newnan-Coweta Airport.


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