Funding might be roadblock to freeway

Corridor reaches toward Augusta

Engineers say construction on the Fall Line Freeway project has gained momentum, but it will still take years for the roadway to reach Augusta.

"I wouldn't even venture to guess it would happen in 2013," said Mike Keene, Georgia Department of Transportation Augusta area engineer.

Progress has been made in the Wilkinson County portion of the roadway, with two of five sections west of Sandersville near completion.

When complete, the Fall Line Freeway will be a 215-mile corridor connecting Columbus and Augusta. As of April, 83 percent of the freeway was open, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation's Web site.

Wilkinson County area engineer Kraig Collins said the two sections under way have "made progress," but he said those roadways still won't be complete until July 2012. "In certain sections, the only thing left is to top it with asphalt."

But the news will not accelerate construction in Richmond County, according to Keene.

Even when routes leading to the Augusta area are complete, officials are not sure how to secure funding to complete the freeway into Augusta.

Keene said officials are not sure if money will come from federal, state or local tax funds. Money could be used from a one percent sales tax measure that could be voted on in November, but that measure may not even make it to the ballot, he said.

"It's not at a stage right now where any funding would be pursued for it," Keene said. "There's no way of knowing until we get to that point."

If money is approved for the freeway, funds cannot be collected until the next fiscal year in July 2011.

"Each county and each municipality puts in the request for the funds and comes up with a plan for what projects are going to be done," Keene said.

"It may be in that money that would be a good place for it to be, but it all depends on what the government and transportation board come up with as priority projects."

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