Ma­jor road im­prove­ments slated for New­ton County

Projects to cost over $160 mil­lion

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

As one of eigh­teen coun­ties in the Metro At­lanta area, New­ton County can ex­pect to see roughly $166 mil­lion spent on road im­prove­ment projects in the county over the next 20 years.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the At­lanta Re­gional Com­mis­sion — the plan­ning and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal co­or­di­na­tion agency for Metro At­lanta — pre­sented the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers with a draft list of projects sched­uled to take place in New­ton County be­tween now and 2030 at their Tues­day night meet­ing.

At the cen­ter of the ARC’s plans to im­prove trans­porta­tion in Metro At­lanta is a plan called En­vi­sion6 – named for the six mil­lion res­i­dents the ARC ex­pects Metro At­lanta’s pop­u­la­tion to swell to by 2030. En­vi­sion6 cov­ers road im­prove­ment projects and pro­grams in all or in por­tions of the 18 Metro At­lanta coun­ties sched­uled to take place be­tween now and 2030

In Septem­ber the ARC Board of Direc­tors is ex­pected to adopt En­vi­sion6 af­ter first bring­ing the plans be­fore each of the 18- mem­ber county Board of Com­mis­sion­ers.

The draft list pre­sented to the New­ton BOC in­cludes two Cov­ing­ton by­pass projects. One project, the East Cov­ing­ton By­pass project, is sched­uled to be­gin con­struc­tion be­tween 2014 and 2020. That project is ex­pected to cost $ 14.1 mil­lion with $ 2.8 mil­lion ex­pected to come from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

The sec­ond by­pass project called the West Cov­ing­ton By­pass/ Ox­ford By­pass is also in the long range ( 2021) and would re­quire the county to sup­ply all of the fund­ing for en­gi­neer­ing, right of way ac­qui­si­tion and con­struc­tion. The project is ex­pected to cost $ 76.8 mil­lion.

The road widen­ing of Salem Road from Old Salem Road to Brown Bridge Road was also in­cluded in En­vi­sion6. With ROW ac­qui­si­tion set to get un­der­way in 2009 and con­struc­tion ex­pected to be­gin in 2012, the project is fore­casted as cost­ing $ 56.4 mil­lion with all of the fund­ing to be sup­plied by the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ment.

The BOC had pre­vi­ously made the de­ci­sion to move ap­prox­i­mately $ 19 mil­lion in Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion fund­ing from other road im­prove­ment projects to the Salem Road widen­ing project af­ter GDOT de­layed or cut ap­prox­i­mately $ 120 mil­lion in fund­ing to New­ton County as part of a state- wide $ 7.7 bil­lion fund­ing short­fall.

Other En­vi­sion6 projects slated to be­gin be­tween 2008 and 2013 in New­ton County are a Ge­or­gia High­way 142 widen­ing project and two bridge up­grade projects to bridges on U. S. High­way 278 ( across the Al­covy River) and Ga. High­way 36 ( across the South River.)

The $ 166 mil­lion fig­ure does not in­clude fund­ing for road im­prove­ment projects to In­ter­state 20.

Fund­ing for En­vi­sion6 and all Metro At­lanta road im­prove­ment projects faces se­ri­ous fund­ing chal­lenges said Jane Hayes, chief of trans­porta­tion plan­ning for the ARC.

“ We have an in­cred­i­ble fi­nan­cial cri­sis in this area in terms of fund­ing to trans­porta­tion struc­tures,” Hayes said.

With the costs of ROW and con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als sky­rock­et­ing and funds from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s high­way trust fund ex­pected to be de­pleted by 2009, Hayes said it was im­por­tant that Congress take ac­tion now.”

“ They haven’t even started yet,” Hayes said of ac­tions taken by Congress to rec­tify the loom­ing prob­lem of fed­eral fund­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2005 re­port pre­pared by the Ge­or­gia Pub­lic Pol­icy Foun­da­tion, Ge­or­gia re­ceives 84 cents for ev­ery fed­eral gas tax dol­lar the state sends to Wash­ing­ton while less pop­u­lous states such as North Dakota and Rhode Is­land re­ceive $ 2.12 on the dol­lar. Only Florida and Texas re­ceive the same or less fund­ing than Ge­or­gia in gas tax re­turns from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

In pre­par­ing En­vi­sion6, Hayes said ARC trans­porta­tion plan­ners met sev­eral times with en­gi­neers and county plan­ners in each of the 18- ARC mem­ber coun­ties.

The en­tire draft doc­u­men­ta­tion and project list for En­vi­sion6 RTP can be found on the ARC web­site at www. at­lantare­gional. com/ en­vi­sion6.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.