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Committee recommends transit wish list items
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The Regional Transportation Roundtable Executive Committee gathered Wednesday to develop a constrained list of infrastructure projects that could be placed on next summer’s Transportation Investment Act referendum.

Once the list is finalized, the projects will be combined into a single voter referendum on the 2012 primary ballot next summer, transportation planner Ron Sadowski said. If passed, the item would levy a 1-percent sales tax throughout the region that would dedicate 75 percent, or an estimated $1.2 billion, to transportation and 25 percent to each local government.

The meeting is an intermediate step toward finalizing the 10-year project lists, which ultimately must be approved by the Regional Transportation Roundtable and the Georgia Department of Transportation before they appear on the ballot, he said.

“When we started out, we had about $4 billion in projects,” executive committee Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said as he opened the meeting. “Now, we’re facing a budget of about $1.2 billion.”

The challenge of the committee was to curb the least important projects and determine the best way to allocate project funds throughout the region, while ensuring each improvement plan would benefit the 10-county region, he said.

Executive Director Allen Burns presented the three scenarios for fund distribution, with allotments based on priority, number of regional corridors and proportion to the population.

After some discussion, the group adopted a plan to allocate the region’s $1,205,472,633 portion of the expected tax revenue according to 2010 Census population proportions. Under the plan, Liberty County, the region’s fifth-largest county, would receive $116,766,516 for its projects, while Bryan County would receive $55,644,256 and $24,559,201 would be allotted for two Long County projects.

Sadowski noted that these amounts are subject to change pending supplemental funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation and CRC Transportation Roundtable approval.

After whittling the projects down to $1.3 billion, the group approved the 65-project list for review by GDOT with the hopes of securing supplemental aid to place project expenditures within the projected revenue, Sadowski said.

The list includes seven projects each in Bryan and Liberty counties and two in Long.

Major projects on the “wish list” for Liberty County include construction of a projected $67,436,078 Hinesville bypass and a $12,138,977 Flemington loop and various improvements along U.S. Highway 84 and State Road 119, according to Sonny Timmerman, executive director of Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission.

Priority projects in Bryan County include $820,650 to build an interchange at I-95 and Belfast Keller Road and make improvements at I-16 and U.S. Highway 280, according to Josh Fenn, executive director of the Development Authority of Bryan County.

Long County’s tentative projects include the realigning and widening of Stafford Dairy Road from State Road 57 to U.S. Highway 84 and construction of an overpass on State Road 57.

Hearings are scheduled for September.

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