TSPLOST vote leads 54 to 46 percent with results needed from nine precincts

The vote on a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in a 13-county region around Augusta was leading 54 to 46 percent with results still needed for nine precincts in three counties.

Counties including Burke, Jenkins, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Washington and Wilkes passed the measure, commonly called TSPLOST. It was rejected in Columbia, Glascock and Lincoln counties. Early today, votes were not final for Hancock, Jefferson and Warren counties.

If approved, revenue totaling $841 million will fund a list of projects including roads, bridges, airports and public transit that were compiled by county leaders. All projects must be completed during the 10-year collection period.

In 2010, the Georgia Legislature passed the Transportation Investment Act allowing voters to decide the issue. Throughout an aggressive campaign for the tax, its supporters said transportation investment is crucial for future economic growth.

Phil Wahl, chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s TSPLOST Committee, said the vote puts Augusta at an economic advantage, noting that a majority of other Georgia regions did not appear likely to support the tax.

“We get funding for those projects that have already been identified to improve transportation and increase connectivity in our region,” Wahl said.

Augusta voter Richard Schultz said he voted in favor of the tax because of the economic promises.

“Just look at the roads in this state and this county. (TSPLOST will) put people to work who need it. Hire them and make these roads better,” Schultz said.

Opponents, however, called the tax a historic mistake that will hurt a cash-strapped economy.

“It’s more tax coming out of the economy and it’s less money the consumer will have available,” said Al Gray, a Columbia County activist.

Collections will begin in January, if approved. The Georgia Department of Transportation will be mostly responsible for project delivery.

Connect Georgia, an entity created by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to promote the referendum, estimated that 22,700 jobs will be created in Augusta’s region through the TSPLOST effort.

REGION 7 TSPLOST:

Yes - 54 percent

No - 46 percent

 

Richmond County

Yes 58.3 percent

No 41.7 percent

 

Columbia County

Yes 41.9 percent

No 58.1 percent

 

THREE MOST COSTLY RICHMOND COUNTY PROJECTS

 

Windsor Spring Road, $25.3 million ($4 million from tax): Widen from two to four lanes, from Tobacco Road to Willis Foreman Road; first phase starts in 2013

 

Broad Street, $25 million ($25 million from tax): Resurface and reconstruct from Washington Road to Sand Bar Ferry Road, scheduled to begin in 2016

 

Wrightsboro Road, $21.5 million ($2 million from tax): Widen from Jimmie Dyess Parkway to Interstate 520, scheduled to start in 2013

 

THREE MOST COSTLY COLUMBIA COUNTY PROJECTS

 

Furys Ferry Road, $50.2 million ($50.2 million from tax): Widen from South Carolina state line to Evans to Locks Road; scheduled to begin in 2016

 

Old Petersburg, Old Evans roads, $30.7 million ($20 million from tax): Widen both roads from Baston to Washington roads, starting in 2016

 

Horizon South Parkway, $26.2 million ($26.2 million from tax): Widen from Wrightsboro Road to Interstate 20; scheduled to begin in 2019

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