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Handful turn out for $450M road hearing

Radney Simpson, assistant state transportation planning administrator for the Georgia Department of Transportation, right, speaks with Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle during a public hearing at the government center Monday.

Radney Simpson, assistant state transportation planning administrator for the Georgia Department of Transportation, right, speaks with Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle during a public hearing at the government center Monday.

ALBANY -- Monday, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission held a joint public hearing to give the public information about how more than $450 million will be spent on regional transportation projects over the next decade.

Six people showed up.

The initiative is part of the state's ambitious regional transportation sales tax plan which will have to meet muster with the voters during Georgia's party primary elections in July.

If approved by the voters, the additional 1 percent sales taxes will be collected within the 14-county Southwest Georgia region of which Dougherty County is a part. It would then be distributed out in essentially two pots of funding. Up to 25 percent of the funding will be distributed to each county in the region based on a formula and will be spent on projects based on the discretion of each individual county.

The remaining 75 percent is going to fund a list of projects on what is now known as the "constrained" list of transportation projects -- a wish list of projects submitted by the elected heads of each of the 14 counties and whittled down based on months of deliberations to meet the funding constraints of the pot of money.

For Dougherty County, that list of projects include:

  • - The Clark Avenue extension across the Flint River to West Society Avenue at a total cost of $64.5 million, $30 million of which will come out of the T-SPLOST funds and the remainder from GDOT;
  • - The widening of Ledo Road from Nottingham Way to U.S. 19 at a total cost of $13.4 million;
  • - The widening of Old Dawson Road from two to four lanes from Pointe North Boulevard to Byron Plantation Road at a total cost of $28.8 million;
  • - Up to $5.5 million for construction of a new general aviation terminal and hangar improvements for the fixed-base operator at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport;
  • - The widening of State Route 133 from just north of Mock Road to the Worth County line for a total of $36.4 million, $33 million of which is to be funded by the T-SPLOST;
  • - The widening of Clark Avenue from the Liberty Expressway to Cordele Road for a total of $16.5 million with $12 million funded through the T-SPLOST.
  • - The construction of a Westover Boulevard connector to Ledo Road through the construction of an underpass at the Liberty Expressway complete with two parallel bridges for $10 million.

The Southwest Georgia Regional Commission will hold two more public hearings this week. The next one is at 5 p.m. today at the commission's Camilla office and the third is at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Firehouse Gallery in Bainbridge.