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Roads panels to work with DOT on final project lists
The finalized list should match up with projected transportation tax revenues
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Hall County has 24 projects vying for the final regional transportation list going to voters next summer.

Last week, the Georgia Department of Transportation released a list of potential projects in designated regions throughout the state as it took another step toward a referendum on a 1 percent sales tax for transportation.

Hall County is in the 13-county Georgia Mountains region.

"Projects are still being put through a deliverability tool to ensure that each will meet the timelines of the law," said DOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg. "They are also still being analyzed for complete financial costs."

Next up for regions across the state is for officials to collaborate with the DOT on putting together a final list that matches project costs to projected sales tax revenues — a task set to be completed by August.

Transportation "roundtables," comprising top city and county leaders from the regions, have been working since last year on the effort, which began with the General Assembly's passage of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

Smaller executive committees, chosen by roundtable members, will be working particularly with Todd Long, the DOT's planning director, on the financially constrained list.

The Georgia Mountains region's executive committee is set to meet at 5:30 tonight at the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission office at 1310 W. Ridge Road, Gainesville.

The purpose of the meeting is to "begin discussing how to select projects for the constrained list," said Stephanie Harmon, the agency's regional planner.

Many of Hall County's projects have been talked about for years and should be very familiar to residents.

They include the "Sardis Road Connector," a road connecting Thompson Bridge Road and the Sardis Road area; widening Spout Springs Road from Atlanta Highway to the Gwinnett County line; and a new Interstate 985 interchange in the Martin Road area near the Atlanta Falcons complex.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization has identified those projects and many others in its proposed 2040 transportation plan that's required as part of federal air quality standards in metro Atlanta.

That plan sets out funding projections through 2040, taking inflation into account, and matches them with the area's biggest roads needs.

It's based on federal, local and state funding, including the presumption that the county's 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, program will continue to get voters' OK.

Road planners have said the transportation tax, if approved, will only help to shore up funding for the 2040 plan, which must be approved in August — or about the time the Georgia Mountains' executive committee submits its final projects list to the full roundtable.

The roundtable has until Oct. 15 to give its final blessing.

If the tax is approved, 75 percent of funding will go to regional projects and 25 percent will go to local governments to spend on transportation needs as they see fit.


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