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84 bypass work gets boost from federal funding
road work

A bypass project taking traffic from Highway 84 to Highway 119 is getting a boost in funding.

A federal government earmark of $2.7 million has been assigned to the project, which will build a 2.8-mile stretch of road from Highway 84, at a half-mile south of its intersection with Highway 119, to a new intersection with Highway 119 about 3,000 feet east of Tibet Road.

“It’s not here yet,” County Administrator Joey Brown said, “but it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

The state Department of Transportation could let the project — putting it out to bid — as early as this summer. Construction, estimated to be near $29 million, is expected to take two years.

Brown pointed out that the traffic on Highway 119, especially in the afternoons, is increasing, as more and more drivers find that route as a way to avoid Hinesville’s afternoon and evening rush hour congestion.

“One of our common complaints is traffic and congestion,” county commission Chairman Donald Lovette said. “We look forward to it being part of the solution to our traffic issues here in Hinesville and Liberty County.”

The proposed road is a two-lane stretch with 12-foot lanes and 10-foot shoulders, with 130 feet of right of way. It is planned to run parallel to Highway 119, with a bridge over the CSX rail line and over wetlands, before connecting back to 119.

Once finished, the new stretch of road will be designated Freight 119 and carry the Highway 119 name. The current Highway 119 would be called Talmadge Road and end in a cul-de-sac just east of Tibet Road.

Work on the bypass began more than 25 years ago, when local leaders approached then U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell. Sen. Coverdell, who passed away in 2000, secured three federal earmarks for the project.

“We appreciate county leadership for even looking forward to phase two of this,” Lovette said. “We’re trying to be proactive.”

In 2003, the county commissioners executed a project management agreement with the state DOT. The agreement put the county in charge of wetlands mitigation, stream buffers, utility relocation and design and plan approvals.

“And we’ve done all that,” Brown said.

The latest round of federal earmarks will go toward utility relocation. The county has bought the stream buffers necessary and GDOT has acquired the wetlands credits and the necessary right-of-way for the project. The county applied for earmarks with U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter.

“It certainly would not have been possible without the special local option sales tax, GDOT and the Congressional delegation,” Brown said.

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