Transportation panel pares tax project list

With relative ease, the Central Savannah River Area Regional Transportation Roundtable's executive committee shaved a project list to within $10 million of its goal Tuesday.

The body, charged with narrowing a huge list of projects down to a list affordable through a 10-year sales tax for transportation, seemed to hit a snag last week when member counties presented revised lists that exceeded projected revenues by nearly $180 million.

Under 2010's Transportation Investment Act, the committee has until Aug. 15 to complete a list for approval by the full roundtable. The list, if approved, will go before voters next year to fund through a new 1 percent sales tax.

Bby eliminating a handful of projects, including a Grovetown bypass and several costly bridge projects, and trimming costs from others, such as a Flowing Wells Road expansion, the committee brought the project total to within $10 million of the $630 million expected to be available over the tax's 10-year life span.

The reductions bring Columbia County's project total to $176 million, just over 27 percent of available funds, and Richmond County's total to $318 million, about 46 percent.

Speaking through a committee member's cellphone speaker, Georgia Department of Transportation Planning Director Todd Long remarked that the CSRA district had the most counties that will receive more through the new sales tax's distribution formula than they could generate through sales.

Even the smallest of the district's 13 counties have at least one named project remaining on the list. All counties will receive a portion of unrestricted sales tax collections they can use for transportation projects of their choosing, if the tax passes.

The group set its next meeting for Aug. 4 at the Thomson-McDuffie County governmental building in Thomson.

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