Transportation tax projects to be evaluated, possibly scaled back

Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 1:08 AM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 5:46 AM
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Voter-approved transportation projects funded by a special tax that began one year ago Wednesday will be evaluated and potentially scaled back after tax collections have come in far below projections, the Georgia Department of Transportation said.

The state will decide how to proceed with the transportation program – promised by proponents of the tax legislation to be a massive overhaul for roads, sidewalks and airports – within the first three months of the coming year, said Mike Dover, GDOT administrator for the Transportation Investment Act.

Each project will be analyzed by GDOT and local governments, regional commissions and citizen advisory boards where the tax is being collected, Dover said. All projects will be completed according to the legislation that created the tax but they could be of significantly less scope with a reduced budget, he said.

“You can’t build the projects with projections you don’t have,” Dover said.

For the 13-county region encompassing Richmond County, collections were 19 percent below projections through October. The regions centered on Albany and Vidalia were 13 percent and 19 percent behind, respectively.

Only three of 12 regions in Georgia approved the tax.

District 12 transportation board representative Don Grantham said he wants permission from lawmakers before scaling back any projects, and more time is needed to watch the tax collections before making big changes.

“We are in a 10-year program and we are just completing the first year,” he said. “I’m not going to push the panic button by any means.”

In the program’s first year, one major construction project began in Richmond County to widen Wrightsboro Road from Jimmie Dyess Parkway to Bobby Jones Expressway. Elsewhere in the region, construction began on a passing lane for State Route 47 in Lincoln County and a contract was let for improvements to Old Petersburg Road which will begin early next year.

Of the $48.5 million collected for Augusta’s region, 25 percent ($12.1 million) was directed to local municipalities for work on discretionary projects that weren’t named in the list that went before voters. Augusta-Richmond County spent most of its allotment on minor improvements such as pot holes and roadside grass mowing.

Dover said the program’s first year was vital time for preparing engineering and design work and proceeding with right-of-way acquisitions.

“In 2014, (taxpayers) will see significant projects underway in these three regions,” Dover said. “I’m still confident, even with the collections the way they are, we can complete the program.”

Seventeen Richmond County projects are scheduled to begin in the coming year including road resurfacings, bridge repairs, widenings and intersection improvements.

  • Brothersville Road and Highway 88 Intersection
  • 15th Street over Augusta Canal (Bridge Repair and Restoration)
  • 7th Street Bridge over Augusta Canal (Bridge Replacement)
  • River Watch Parkway Adaptive Signal Project
  • 11th Street over the Augusta Canal (Bridge Repair and Restoration)
  • Milledgeville Road Bridge Maintenance at Rocky Creek
  • Rehabilitate Air Carrier and General Aviation Aprons
  • Broad Street over Hawks Gully (Bridge Repair and Restoration)
  • Broad Street over the Augusta Canal (Bridge Repair & Restoration)
  • Windsor Spring Road, Phase V (Road and Bridge Widening)
  • Bath Edie Road and Highway 88 Intersection
  • Windsor Spring Road, Phase IV from Tobacco Road to Willis Foreman Road
  • Marks Church Road Widening From Wrightsboro Road to Wheeler Road
  • Pleasant Home Road (River Watch Parkway to Walton Way Extension)
  • Jackson Road Resurfacing from Walton Way to Wrightsboro Road
  • Walton Way Ext. Resurfacing (Robert C. Daniel to Walton Way)
  • Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan Implementation
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dickworth1 12/27/13 - 07:21 am
Hello Aiken County

Aiken county loves the Ga. transportation tax, I bet the sales tax collections are up for Aiken County! People moved to America to avoid unjust and high taxes and you can bet people will drive across the river to save money on purchases rather than paying sales tax for something
that probably will not take place or to fund relocating Berckman road to accommodate a private business.

grinder48 12/27/13 - 03:33 pm

Dickworth1 is right. I live in Augusta and started shopping in north Augusta as much as possible when they passed this ridiculous tax.

nocnoc 12/30/13 - 07:40 am
Most of my Gas is purchased in SC @

10 to 15 cents less a gallon.

About 1/2 my purchases are made in North Augusta because while I am filling up with cheap gas, I am buying food, and doing Wally World.

All also because the Sales Tax is less per dollar.

In short:
DOWNTOWN Taxes has priced ARC out of a Tax market.


I am also wondering how Airport Aprons are road projects?

What is the:

Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan Implementation?

Sure Sounds like a Administrative PORK BARREL?

Dixieman 12/30/13 - 07:53 am

So now we have a HUGE tax increase (it is a 16-2/3% increase!! Going from 6 cents per dollar to 7 cents per dollar) and -- drumroll -- fewer road construction projects?
Government is wonderful, ain't it?
Told you TSPLOST was a bad idea!

dickworth1 and nocnoc -- Most government economists and politicians are idiots. They assume that if they raise taxes, you will not notice and your behavior will not change. They ignore the fact that we are a mobile society and shop around...and Aiken County has definitely benefited from the ill-conceived and burdensome TSPLOST. So good observations; thank you.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/30/13 - 09:26 am

Augusta will be on the short end of the stick with desired transportation projects if they nickel and dime away our share of the SPLOST money on routine maintenance items such as pothole repair. That sort of thing has traditionally been put in the normal maintenance budget. But if the commissioners instead cut the maintenance budget for roads and streets to zero and spend only TSPLOST money on maintenance, there won't be money left to actually improve the transportation system.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/30/13 - 09:35 am

Mike Dover, GDOT administrator for the Transportation Investment Act, said:

The state will decide how to proceed with the transportation program. . . . All projects will be completed according to the legislation that created the tax but they could be of significantly less scope with a reduced budget.

I don't think this is necessarily the best way to proceed. It could be better to eliminate some "feel good" projects in order to fully fund the crucial projects.

In Augusta, we could definitely cut back or eliminate the TSPLOST subsidy for running the bus system.

Also, it would appear the DOT is taking the members of the Regional Commissions for saps. These regional commissions were established to oversee the spending of SPLOST, but the Dover guy says the state will be calling all the shots.

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