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Eyes on the Road: Former district engineers hold key DOT jobs
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A couple of people with Hall County ties are holding down key posts in the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The DOT announced last week that Todd Long, former district engineer based in Gainesville and a former Flowery Branch resident, now is that department's deputy commissioner.

Long has served as planning director, a job created by ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue and now under the auspices of Gov. Nathan Deal. He is resigning that post April 15 to take over the new DOT job.

As planning director, Long has been in the spotlight for more than a year, pushing regions throughout the state to develop project lists that would be voted July 31 as part of the transportation sales tax.

Per the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, each of the 12 regions — their boundaries defined by already-established regional commissions — formed "transportation roundtables" composed of county and city officials.

Each of the roundtables created a five-member "executive committee" from the membership. The committees' job would be to bring a recommended project list to the roundtable, which then would give its final OK.

Long, now a Lilburn resident, sat through each of the executive committee and roundtable meetings in the Georgia Mountains region, which has 13 counties, including Hall.

He also was a featured speaker at the past two DOT forums sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce at Gainesville State College — the last one taking place last week and focusing largely on the upcoming tax vote.

South Hall resident Russell McMurry, also a former district engineer in Gainesville, works as head of the DOT's engineering division, a job he's held since May 2011.

He would oversee the flow of projects if the transportation sales tax passes in respective regions.

"Russell is very much engrossed in this," Long said at last week's forum. "He spends nights and weekends coming up with a game plan."

In another tidbit from the forum, an audience member asked a question about whether projects resulting from the new sales tax would employ American workers and products.

"There is no provision in that regard," Long said, adding that state lawmakers talked about that issue when forming the bill. "That would almost be an attorney general's opinion on whether you can have that (provision)."


Delays expected in work at railroad crossing

A railroad crossing on U.S. 441/Ga. 15, just north of the intersection of U.S. 441 and Ga. 334 in Commerce, is set for replacement this week, if weather permits.

Norfolk Southern Railroad needs to remove the damaged roadbed and replace it with a smoother and sturdier crossing for vehicular traffic, said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT's Gainesville office, in a press release.

The work, taking place today and Tuesday, will require lane closures on Ga. 334 and at U.S. 441/Ga. 15 during the daytime.

Monday night, U.S. 441 will have only one lane open in each direction. Tuesday, U.S. 441/Ga. 15 from Ga. 98 to the railroad crossing will be completely closed while the crossing is repaved.

U.S. 441 traffic will be detoured onto Ga. 98/Ila Road.

"Delays are expected in the area as work occurs," Pope said. "Please avoid the area if possible."

 

Cities would get share of road sales tax money

Gainesville is projected to receive $585,825 annually from the transportation sales tax, if it passes, more than any other city in Hall County.

Hall, overall, would receive $4.83 million annually from the 25 percent portion of the 1 percent tax revenues. Seventy-five percent of the tax would go to regional projects.

Hall would receive $3.8 million of that amount. The breakdown for the rest of the money, is $112,070, Braselton; $103,880, Flowery Branch; $101,986, Lula; $82,279, Oakwood; $23,918, Clermont; and $11,542, Gillsville.

 

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:

 

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