Government

More News | | | Editor

State Transportation Board begins process on transportation tax projects

  • Follow Government

ATLANTA — The State Transportation Board approved Thursday a resolution formally starting the process for construction of dozens of roads, bridges and intersections financed by a new sales tax.

Voters in three regions, including Augusta’s, approved a 10-year, 1-percent sales tax that will start in January. In the meantime, the Department of Transportation is putting the pieces in place to begin the first phase of construction on projects to be completed by 2015.

“This is going on the record saying we’re going to do everything we can to make sure these projects are delivered properly, on time and certainly on budget,” said Don Grantham, the GDOT District 10 representative.

Augusta’s region, which includes Richmond and 12 other counties, is projected to collect $841 million in 10 years to finance 85 projects. In Richmond County, several road-widening projects, 14 bridge repairs or replacements, road resurfacing, and infrastructure repairs are on the list.

Grantham said he talked with local traffic engineers about making some modifications to construction start dates, which GDOT wants finalized by Jan. 1.

The realignment of Berck­mans Road with Alexander Drive, a closely watched project because of its proximity to Augusta National Golf Club, could be rescheduled sooner than its current 2015 start date, Grantham said. Pre-construction work is well under way.

“There’s a strong possibility that can happen,” he said.

Other large projects in Richmond County are widenings of Wrightsboro Road, Windsor Spring Road and 15th Street and improvements to River Watch Parkway and Broad Street.

Projects needing more work, such as engineering or right-of-way acquisition, are scheduled for the later phases. Information about the progress of each phase will be made public periodically.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure this program is transparent and successful,” said Mike Dover, the department’s administrator for the tax-funded projects.

He and his staff have spent the weeks since voters approved the tax in July meeting with local officials to explain the next steps in the process. Local governments can apply to manage projects in their jurisdiction if they can demonstrate experience and capability.

Where the local governments don’t run the show, a consulting firm will. Dover said he asked firms last month to submit proposals for the job, and he hopes to have one selected and working by the end of the year.

“We realize that the window is closing very rapidly,” he said.

Grantham said Augusta’s Traffic and Engineering department will likely manage its projects using existing personnel.

Among other things, the board’s resolution details the working relationship with other state agencies, including the Department of Revenue, which will collect the sales tax, and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission, which will sell the bonds for the upfront financing.

Board member Brandon Beach wanted to make sure people in those areas know what’s going on with their taxes.

“Sounds like you’ve got all the ‘I’s dotted and ‘T’s crossed,” he said. “What about a marketing program?”

Dover explained that a marketing firm would supplement information distributed by state and local governments.

By passing the sales tax, the three regions also get a discount on the amount of local funds that must be used in routine transportation projects. Politicians from the regions where voters rejected the tax have said the discount should be blocked or watered down. That’s likely to be a key issue when the General Assembly convenes in January.

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
79534
Points
Riverman1 11/16/12 - 01:10 pm
0
0
There's no way voters in the

There's no way voters in the regions that voted no are going to help us pay for our roads.

Little Lamb
43901
Points
Little Lamb 11/16/12 - 02:16 pm
0
0
Discount

Don't you like how the general assembly put a provision in the law for those who pass it to get a discount on DOT work? Now that three regions passed TSPLOST and nine regions gave it the thumbs down, the next general will repeal the discount. That's really fair, isn't it?

Back to Top

Top headlines

Commission rejects tax jump

Seven commissioners nixed a proposed tax increase Monday that would cost a typical homeowner $70 a year, leaving the countywide millage rate unset with just a few days to meet state deadlines.
Search Augusta jobs