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Northeast Ga. governments submit road project lists
All projects must reflect regional benefit or need
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Game of the Week: Lumpkin County vs. Stephens County

By: Bill Murphy

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Northeast Georgia governments have submitted their "unconstrained project lists" as part of a push toward a statewide 2012 vote on a new 1-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

In keeping with the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, governments throughout the state were required to send the lists to their respective regional commission by Wednesday.

Hall's projects include the widening of U.S. 129/Athens Highway from Gillsville Highway to the county line, intersection improvements along McEver Road, a new Exit 14 interchange off Interstate 985 and a four-lane road connecting the Sardis Road/Chestatee Road area to Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road at Mount Vernon Road.

Stephanie Harmon, planner with the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission in Gainesville, said Thursday that the 13 counties in the district, including Hall, met the Wednesday deadline.

The regional commission must submit a consolidated list of projects to the Georgia Department of Transportation by April 13.

"It will be about a week before we have (all the lists) in a single document," Harmon said.

In the meantime, "we'll be consolidating and sorting based on different criteria that we haven't quite determined yet," she added. "We're still getting a little bit of feedback from DOT on how they want them."

Harmon said, "We know that they want them by county and project name, so we're looking to see if anything has been duplicated and just verify that (the governments) have all the information that they can give us."

All the submitted projects must reflect a regional benefit or need, "and they're not based on any type of budget at this time," she added.

Hall County government and the Hall County Joint Municipal Association submitted a combined list through the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The document was submitted Tuesday, said Srikanth Yamala, MPO transportation planning manager.

"Hall County and its municipalities put in a lot of thought while developing the unconstrained list, which was also vetted through the MPO planning process," Yamala said. "I am certain that the list is a good reflection of our transportation needs over the next 10-15 years."

As part of the state law, a transportation "roundtable" comprising top city and county leaders is formed within each regional commission of the state. Each roundtable, which has an executive committee, is expected to guide the process from a regional standpoint.

The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission's roundtable has 26 voting members.

The DOT is scheduled to provide a draft of the unconstrained list to the executive committee by early summer, with the charge to shorten the list so projected costs match projected revenues from the sales tax.

The executive committee must develop that "constrained list" by Aug. 15. The full roundtable will vote on the final list sometime before Oct. 15.

If voters within the district approve the tax in 2012, the state would begin distributing proceeds in 2013, with 75 percent of the money going to regional projects decided on by the roundtable and 25 percent going to local governments using their discretion on projects.