Charles Jones, a local attorney heads up the pro-TSPLOST group. When speaking to the Griffin Spalding Area Transportation Committee last week, Jones was preaching to the choir of elected and city, county and state employees, who are limited to educating, but not advocating for the TSPLOST.
Jones, as a private citizen, does not have that restriction and said he was asked by Griffin City Commissioner Joanne Todd to advocate for the regional transportation sales tax. He encouraged people to look at the list of projects for Spalding County, of which he said, “the common thread is safety.”
Out of the 15 projects, Jones said “at least 11 address safety concerns.”
He cited the Solomon Street, Searcy Avenue, railroad crossing as an example.
“It’s a free-for-all where five roads come together,” Jones said.
Another project he cited is the intersection improvements at North Expressway and Varsity Road at the entrance to Southern Crescent Technical College.
“You could just sit there and watch for a car accident,” he said.
He also said the project in Orchard Hill, which improves the sight distances at the intersection of South County Line and Macon roads and includes traffic control devices is another safety project.
“There are high crash incidents and fatalities in that area,” he said.
There’s also the replacement of the North Hill Street Bridge at Cabin Creek, which was built in the 1930s and is now structurally deficient. Another realignment is at the intersection of Teamon, Old Atlanta and School roads in Sunny Side, which has become a higher traffic area.
“This list was not put together willy-nilly," Jones said. "There’s no fluff in there, not a swimming pool or horse track.”
The project list does include $3 million for a study on commuter rail service from Griffin to Atlanta and $11 million for the new Griffin-Spalding County Airport. The Griffin to Atlanta commuter rail study ties in with plans from other regions including Atlanta and Macon, to run passenger rail service between those cities.
There are 15 projects for Spalding County with about $97 million expected to come from the tax over 10 years to pay for them. Jones said Spalding County is expected to generate $96 million in sales taxes from the TSPLOST,
The other projects include:
• Experiment Street Multi-Use Path and Intersection Improvement Program will improve intersections at Ellis Road and Experiment Street and at 13th Street, Ray Street and Experiment Street. Included will be bicycle and pedestrian facilities as well as other safety improvements.
• Moreland Road extension, which extends Moreland Road between U.S. Highway 19/41 and Zebulon Road, allowing Moreland Road to continue from its intersection with 19/41 Bypass to Zebulon Road.
• Hill Street Improvement Program will improve the intersections of 6th Street and North Hill Street, Northside Drive, Tuskegee Avenue and East McIntosh Road.
• North Pine Hill Road, Henry Jackson Road realignment will improve alignment of North Pine Hill Road, Ellis Road and Henry Jackson Road.
• South McDonough Road at Johnston Road intersection project will improve the intersection at this location improving sight distance and installing appropriate traffic control devices.
• Spalding County Pedestrian Connector project will utilize the old Southern Rail Road and Roosevelt Railroad corridor to implement a multi-use path and trolley from the Heron Bay Village node to the central business district in downtown Griffin. The project will tie into the Spalding County parks and greenway system.
• Georgia Highway 155 redesignation from Jackson Road to North McDonough Road includes reconstruction of North McDonough Road from Arthur K. Bolton Parkway to allow Highway 155 a more direct route to Highway 16.
• Georgia Highway 3/U.S. Highway 19 turn lane addition will rework and add turn and through lanes at the Bypass at the Highway 16 bridge.
If the referendum passes, the Georgia Department of Transportation will be responsible for project delivery, which has been another point of criticism for the sales tax. GDOT officials noted an independent study ranked Georgia DOT first in the country in on-budget project delivery and second in on-time delivery.
Griffin Public Works Director Brant Keller told the Transportation Committee, “there is no Plan B. There is no alternative, we have projects but don’t have the money.”
Keller added “we can look at an extension of the current SPLOST, which ends in 2014. Legitimately, we’re not gonna raise (property) taxes.”
Keller suggested the Transportation Committee put a committee together to come up with a Plan B, should the TSPLOST fail.
“Its foolish not to go after the federal money that’s there,” he said.
The TSPLOST funds would be used for the 15 dedicated projects, with another 25 percent undedicated, which would be used as matching funds for state and federal grants to get more transportation projects done.
For more information on the transportation referendum, visit www.dot.ga.gov/transportationreferendum.