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Transportation panel now to decide final projects list
List headed to roundtable for approval; regions budget is $1.26 billion
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Hall road projects

Here's a list of projects that have been recommended so far for the 2012 statewide vote on a 1 percent, 10-year sales tax for transportation:

  • Widening Browns Bridge Road from Forsyth County to Ga. 53/McEver Road
  • New Interstate 985 interchange north of Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway and near Martin Road
  • Jesse Jewell Parkway and John Morrow Parkway intersection improvements
  • Improvements to Martin Road from Atlanta Highway to Ga. 53/Winder Highway
  • Sardis Road Connector, a road linking Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road to Sardis Road near Chestatee Road
  • Widening Spout Springs Road from Hog Mountain Road to Gwinnett County
  • Widening U.S. 129/Athens Highway from Gillsville Highway to the Pendergrass Bypass
  • Widening U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway from Nopone Road to White County
  • Widening Cleveland Highway from Limestone Parkway to Nopone Road

The deadline passed Monday for regions throughout Georgia to produce a recommended list of road projects for next year's transportation tax referendum.

The 13-county Georgia Mountains region, which includes Hall County, had its list in the bag Aug. 2. Officials in the 10-county Atlanta region on Monday approved a $6.14 billion draft list of transportation projects.

But the Georgia Mountains' task to meet its $1.26 billion budget didn't come easy.

A five-member executive committee tapped for the duty toiled through four lengthy meetings before agreeing on its projects, which, if approved by voters, will be financed by a 1 percent sales tax over 10 years.

The list now goes to a 26-member "roundtable" made up of top city and county leaders from throughout the 13-county Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

The group is set to meet 5-7 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Ruby Albright Aquatic Center in Clarkesville.

Lamar Paris, Union County's sole commissioner, serves as the roundtable's chairman.

He said Monday he believes the handoff between the committee and the roundtable should go well.

"A lot of our (committee) members (were) in touch with other counties and cities ... anytime a project of theirs was going to be adjusted or eliminated," Paris said.

Issues may arise before the roundtable, "but we're going to talk it through," he added. "We realize how important it is for as many of us as possible to agree with the list that we have."

Paris said he believes the state's Transportation Investment Act of 2010, which calls for funding the projects through a voter-approved tax, "is the only game in town."

"It's not perfect, but we've got to figure out a way to make it work," he said. "If it doesn't, our region could and probably will fall behind other regions of the state."

As part of a special session happening now, the state legislature is expected to decide whether to move the referendum from July to the general election in November.

Transportation plans move forward if a majority of voters — 50 percent plus one — in a particular region vote yes.

Roundtables throughout Georgia have until Oct. 15 to approve a final list.

Paris said he hopes the Georgia Mountains roundtable can wrap up its work in two meetings, and he expects that three to five public hearings will be held throughout the region.

One of the hearings has been scheduled for Sept. 13 in Gainesville.