The Georgia Department of Transportation has set a March 30 deadline for local governments to submit wish lists for road projects that could be considered as part of the state's planned vote on a 1-cent sales tax for transportation.
Governments must submit their lists to their respective regional commissions, which have set up transportation "roundtables" to help steer the process toward the August 2012 referendum.
"Compiling the list of potential projects nominated by local governments is the next step in the process of determining a final list of approved projects for voters," said DOT Director of Planning Todd Long.
"Each regional commission will collect the projects submitted before forwarding them to the (DOT's) Planning Division. The projects submitted should meet the specific criteria adopted by each regional roundtable."
The Hall County Joint Municipal Association has pulled together a list of projects in coordination with the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The projects on the "unconstrained" list include improvements along Lake Lanier Islands Parkway, Athens Highway, Thompson Bridge Road, Cleveland Highway, Lula Road, McEver Road and several Jesse Jewell Parkway intersections.
"We've mapped out ideas and involved the cities with the ones that we think will get good voter support," said Stan Brown, Oakwood city manager and head of the association's transportation work group, at a Jan. 24 meeting of the municipal group.
"They meet (DOT) criteria and have received not just city but county support."
The MPO will submit the projects to the Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains Regional Commission by March 30, said Srikanth Yamala, MPO transportation planning manager.
"Between now and then, we intend to visit with Hall County or any other entity, if interested, to get their thoughts on the list," he said.
The plan is to present the list to the MPO's Policy Committee on March 8 for its approval, Yamala added.
The Transportation Investment Act passed last year by the Georgia General Assembly allows voters to decide whether to add the sales tax, first by setting up regional transportation "roundtables" and then by voting on a project list.
The Georgia Mountains Regional Commission formed the Northeast Georgia roundtable, a 26-member group made up of mayors and top county government leaders from throughout Northeast Georgia.
An executive committee will do much of the work to pull together projects for a final recommended list.
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 to match projected revenues from the sales tax.
The executive committee must develop a "constrained" list by Aug. 15. The full roundtable will vote on the final list sometime before October 15.
"The final list of projects need to be strategic in nature, be appealing to the public and must be deliverable," Long said.
If voters within the district approve the tax on Aug. 21, 2012, the state would begin distributing proceeds in 2013, with 75 percent of the money dedicated to regional projects decided on by the roundtable and 25 percent going to local governments using their discretion on projects.