Major road improvements slated for Newton County
Projects to cost over $160 million
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.