Bob Alexander explains the Dougherty Area Reional Transportation Study to the Exchange Club of Albany on Friday.
ALBANY, Ga. — The Exchange Club of Albany counts members from Lee County, and at the club’s Friday meeting it heard from individuals described as hailing from “The Northern Territories.”
Bob Alexander, director of Lee County’s Planning and Engineering department, explained transportation construction investments planned for Dougherty and Lee counties. Lee Chamber of Commerce President Winston Oxford pitched for a yes vote on a transportation tax.
The T-SPLOST, special-purpose local-option transportation sales tax, vote will be held July 31. Oxford urged Exchangites to vote yes.
“Southwest Georgia has lost jobs for decades because we have no interstate highway near us,” Oxford said. “The construction alone could generate 14,000 new jobs in the next 10 years. Then there are the other jobs in support of the construction workers.”
According to a pamphlet handed out by Oxford, 70 projects are planned for the Southwest Georgia region’s 14 counties, including Dougherty and Lee.
If the penny local sales tax isn’t passed, there could be a 27-cent increase in the gas tax to pay for statewide construction, Oxford said. And with a statewide gas tax comes a local loss of control over the money, he added.
“The legislature is controlled by Atlanta,” Oxford said. “You really think the legislators in Atlanta care about Southwest Georgia?”
To attract business and economic development to the area, good roads are needed, Oxford said. And creating jobs and saving the jobs already here will depend on attracting economic development, he added.
“This is an opportunity to vote on an unemployment rate decrease for us,” Oxford said. “Vote yes on T-SPLOST. Please.”
The sales tax will generate $398 million for projects in the region, Alexander said. But that is 75 percent of what is expected to be raised. The other 25 percent would be sent to local governments for transportation needs to use as they saw fit.
Some of the planned projects in the region include 10 miles of Forrester Parkway improvement, 13 miles of Ledo Road widening, a 30-mile Clark Avenue extension and 16 miles of improvements to Clark Avenue.