Transportation tax needed, supporters say

Friday, July 20, 2012 4:54 PM
Last updated Sunday, July 22, 2012 12:42 AM
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Columbia County has a lot riding on the July 31 vote on a special tax to fund transportation and road projects in the region.

Three of the county’s projects are among the top six most costly projects in the 13-county region. The county’s project list totals $174.6 million for eight proposals.

Four projects in Columbia County are more expensive than Richmond County’s most costly project – a widening of Windsor Spring Road costing $25.3 million with only $4 million in funding needed from the proposed tax. Widening and extending major thoroughfares in the county is crucial to helping relieve congestion caused by population growth, supporters of the tax in Columbia County say. Grovetown, in the southern portion of the county, has become a traffic nightmare for commuters and businesses.

Tammy Shepherd, the president and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said improvements will ease transportation for some of the county’s largest employers and big manufacturers on Horizon South Parkway and Lewiston Road.

“We feel, for the future growth of our county, infrastructure is key for new business and maintaining our current businesses,” she said.

According to U.S. Census data, Columbia County grew by 38 percent, or 35,000 residents, between 2000 and 2010.

“This is a 10-year tax. If we grow 25 percent in the next 10 years, what kind of congestion are we looking at in these major corridors?” Shepherd asked.

Columbia County residents who oppose the tax agree the projects are needed but don’t think a tax is the way to fund them.

Joey Brush, a former state representative and senator and a Grovetown resident, said the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is mostly responsible for project delivery, needs to be held accountable for its inability to complete projects.

“DOT is probably the most inefficient and wasteful department of state government,” Brush said. “Do we have to have another tax for them to do what they were supposed to do in the first place?”

Al Gray, who splits his time between Lincoln and Columbia counties, said GDOT “squandered funding through their loss of accounting.”

Several road projects in Columbia County have been proposed for years, but Georgia’s motor fuel tax has been misused, Gray said.

Backers of the tax in Richmond County say the entire metropolitan area benefits from road improvements.

Scott MacGregor, a consultant for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce who has worked closely promoting the tax, said transportation investment is crucial for regional connectivity and economic development.

“We’ve got to understand that making sure Columbia County continues to have good traffic flow is a big part of keeping the whole metro area healthy,” he said.

Many residents are eyeing a proposal to extend River Watch Parkway to Wash­ington Road in Evans. That route, supporters say, would give commuters quick access from Columbia County homes to jobs in Augusta.

MacGregor said Richmond County should be interested in attracting suburban residents to downtown.

Columbia County Comm­ission Chairman Ron Cross said that while the county’s most urgent needs are near Grovetown, there are also gains for the northern portion of the county. Making Furys Ferry Road four lanes from Evans to Locks Road to the South Carolina line is a future need that must be accounted for in this tax, he said.

“It’s the only hope for transportation funding probably for a good while,” Cross said. “Good planning starts ahead of when you’re in an emergency.”

Another endorser of the tax is the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. Thom Tuckey, a retired Army colonel and the group’s executive director, said transportation infrastructure will help determine growth of the military installation. Roads feeding into Fort Gordon need improvement, he said.

“All of that bodes well for installation growth at Fort Gordon,” Tuckey said.

FIND OUT MORE

An informational meeting on the July 31 transportation tax referendum will be held Tuesday in Columbia County. The public meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the commission room at the Evans Government Center, Building A, 630 Ronald Reagan Drive.

3 MOST COSTLY PROPOSALS

Columbia County’s three most expensive projects proposed for funding from the 1-cent Special District Transportation Sales and Use Tax are among the six most costly projects in the entire 13-county region that will vote on the tax.

• Widen Furys Ferry Road from South Carolina line to Evans to Locks Road – $50.2 million

• Widen Old Petersburg and Old Evans roads from Baston to Washington roads – $30.7 million ($20 million from proposed tax)

• Widen Horizon South Parkway/Georgia Highway 388 from Wrightsboro Road to Interstate 20 – $26.2 million

Comments (23) Add comment
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Little Lamb
46333
Points
Little Lamb 07/20/12 - 06:13 pm
8
0
Vote No

Voters need to say no to this sales tax. The legislature can tweak it and bundle it with elimination of the gas tax, then it might be worth voting for. To add a new sales tax on everything from groceries to new cars on top of the existing gasoline tax is suicide. Vote NO!

NoHayManera
140
Points
NoHayManera 07/20/12 - 06:47 pm
0
3
Washington Rd.?

Is there a plan in the works to widen Washington Rd. (between Halali Farm Rd. to William Few Pkwy.)? If you're driving from Martinez to the lake, that little stretch is a nightmare during rush-hour.

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 07/20/12 - 07:00 pm
8
0
NO!

Vote no on TSPLOST!.....

laro247
132
Points
laro247 07/20/12 - 07:46 pm
6
0
oh no

Georgia dot budget, according to their website, was about 1.9 billion for 2012, but the website doesn't give a very detailed accounting of where it goes. I suspect most goes for salaries and retirement benefits. If you want me to vote to pay more I would like to see a more detailed account of where it goes. Doubt that'll be done so I'm voting NO.

Little Lamb
46333
Points
Little Lamb 07/20/12 - 07:59 pm
2
0
Priorities

I'm having a hard time figuring why widening Furys Ferry Rd. into S.C. is taking a higher priority than widening Old Petersburg and Old Evans.

dichotomy
33466
Points
dichotomy 07/20/12 - 08:01 pm
7
0
Well, there you go folks. All

Well, there you go folks. All of your state gasoline tax money ends up in metro Atlanta and if you approve TSPLOST most of the money will end up in Columbia County or so other part of the "region". These people are trying to convince you to voluntarily give them more money to pay for what you have already paid for. They took your money, gave you nothing for it, and Atlanta has become so addicted to your money that they are telling you to give them more if you want anything done locally. Vote NO on TSPLOST and start demanding OUR share of what we already pay. Vote NO this time and Vote NO in two years when they try to slip it by you again in another off year election.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 07/20/12 - 08:34 pm
7
0
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

Only a fool volunteers to give more money to a Government that has misused previous tax money. No!!!!!!!!!!!!!

star
646
Points
star 07/20/12 - 10:10 pm
7
0
No to Tsplost

How can anybody propose or vote for a tax increase in this day and time. Georgia's unemployment just hit 9%. Nationally over 12 million people are unemployed. Many of those that are working are struggling. Let's send a message to those people proposing this tax. The best way is to defeat TSPLOST. VOTE NO!

nevertoolate
291
Points
nevertoolate 07/20/12 - 11:38 pm
7
0
uh...NO!

NO! NO! Enough already! Can you hear us (or READ for that matter?)! NO! NO MORE TAX! NO!

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/21/12 - 06:30 am
4
0
URGENTLY NEEDED... more

URGENTLY NEEDED...
more like.. at the urging of businesses...

i see no popular outcry for a new tax.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 07/21/12 - 08:10 am
0
0
NO!
Unpublished

Do not fall into the trap of this huge tax increase.

Government needs more money like a drug affict needs more crack.

sgmret
4435
Points
sgmret 07/21/12 - 08:19 am
7
0
Just say no.

Just say no.

avidreader
3259
Points
avidreader 07/21/12 - 09:14 am
7
0
No! No! No!

Big mistake to appove the penny tax.

bushwhacker
39
Points
bushwhacker 07/21/12 - 09:43 am
0
8
vote yes

or watch our property taxes rise to cover it.....

nanowerx
1325
Points
nanowerx 07/21/12 - 10:02 am
7
0
Wasteful!

Yeah, let's go ahead and spend millions to extend Riverwatch to Washington Road when at the end of Riverwatch, you take a left or a right, drive for a half mile and...gasp....you are at Washington road! This project sounds like something we should all throw our money at! It will surely unite Columbia and Richmond county!! It will bring $493827267 more revenue to the area!!! /sarcasm

These people are trying to convince me to give them more money with that argument?! Wow, no wonder they misuse the funds we already give them, they are obviously too dumb for the job.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 07/21/12 - 11:06 am
0
0
Property Tax Increase
Unpublished

No there as well. If commissioners increase that we need to recall them from office. Enough waste.

resident
501
Points
resident 07/21/12 - 12:38 pm
6
0
YOU GUESSED IT ANOTHER RESOUNDING NO!!!!!!!!!!

I think we need to hold the DOT accountable as well as the local counties. They won't even repave roads using their tax money they always say we are waiting for DOT approval/funding. Guess what folks they do not put the tax money for tags for any road stuff if they did they would have money...The same thing goes for the gasoline tax which to my reconing goes up automatically when the price of fuel goes up a certain amount. I have yet to see it go down...WHERE IS THAT WINDFALL GOING????? My guess is the same as already mentioned Atlanta and wasteful pensions and health care for state workers not paying their fair share. I am sure state employess will argue this point but lets take a look at how many holidays/training days/comp time and whatever excuse there might be for now working plus how little is required if any to contribute with probably minimal number of years service required. Hey this all adds up....too amny saying it is not coming out of my pocket so why should I care......Well it does come out of your pocket!!!! Wake up people show up for meetings voice your discontent contact those politicians that are wasting the money speak loudly at the polling places!!! if not then you should pay more not those of us that pay taxes and care and one other tax revenue shortage is under the table/cash day labor workers...income taxes/medicare/401K/many other things missed by this!!!

star
646
Points
star 07/21/12 - 02:54 pm
3
0
NO TO TSPLOST

Folks, you best listen to Joey Brush. His opinion, in this article, DOT is similar to a lot of government agencies. They have grown inefficient and bloated and will continue to be as long as we give them more and more of our money. It is past time for them to get the message: NO MORE TAX INCREASES!!! Say NO TO THE TSPLOST.

augusta citizen
9468
Points
augusta citizen 07/21/12 - 03:57 pm
2
0
NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Can you hear us yet???? NOOOOO!!!!!

Tots
25988
Points
Tots 07/21/12 - 04:38 pm
1
0
My vote,

NO!!!!!!!

nocnoc
43362
Points
nocnoc 07/21/12 - 08:44 pm
2
0
Basicly Columbia Co. wants Richmond Co. help to pay

5 family NO Votes on TSPLOST here.

As a long time Richmond co. resident, I feel the excuses for passage are lame. For me this tax boils down to the lack of pre-planning that DOT leadership was to handle and the TSPLOST lack of answer-ability for the spending 25% of the taxpayers money.

I said it before TSPLOST reads like a Political Rewards and Pork Barrel Tax.

While Columbia Co. was rapidly growing their, commissioners and DOT dept. should have been planning ahead instead they were all to happy to build build build without thinking of the needed infrastructure to support the growth down the road.

I also feel so bad for those people up at their Columbia Co. lake houses that have to drive on a crowded road to get to work in Richmond co.
But I have a solution: get up a half hour earlier or move to Augusta and be closer to work.

bar123
28
Points
bar123 07/22/12 - 08:45 am
0
0
Tax

NO MORE TAX. Did you hear me? NO MORE TAX.

cheapster505
566
Points
cheapster505 07/22/12 - 10:32 am
0
0
really?

and don't forget the COST overruns with that much money promised what s the sense to keep cost under budget? we'll just make it up later
and IF projections from proposed tax are short? this what was said about 520 and a few short years and it needs major repairs

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/22/12 - 01:02 pm
0
0
ya hear that Augusta

ya hear that Augusta National? naw go on n' pay for yer road reroutin' yerself.

FAIR TAX Now
16
Points
FAIR TAX Now 07/22/12 - 03:00 pm
1
0
TSPLOST

I am for a sales tax as much as anybody, you should be able to tell that from my name. But I am voting no this week on the TSPLOST because it is a new tax. I am all for the replacement of property/income tax with a sales tax but not as a new tax. The politicians need to realize we don't want more taxes, we want a different type of tax. Replace all taxes with Sales Tax.

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