Wednesday is the deadline for 12 regions of Georgia to submit transportation wish lists to the state. It represents the first step toward putting the lists before voters. Sometime next year, voters would decide whether to approve a penny sales tax for their region's projects.
A roundtable group of local leaders represents each of the state’s 12 regions. They are compiling their lists from projects proposed by local counties within their region.
30 projects are set to come out of northwest Georgia. One of them is a request to improve Highway 225 between Murray and Gordon counties. Whitfield County commissioner Mike Babb says his group’s list must meet key criteria to pass state DOT muster.
“Are they regional impact? Can they be quickly done or shovel-ready? So that would be a project that would have high priority for those two counties and could probably be done pretty quickly.”
The DOT will return slimmed-down lists to each region by late summer. Then, local negotiations begin on which projects to present to voters next year.
Dan Bollinger with the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission says once his region gets its list back, he doesn’t expect a lot of haggling among officials of the 14-county area.
“You don’t see this tug-of-war thing, particularly in rural areas, as much as you see a political tradeoff. People cutting deals saying ‘look, I’ll help you with this one if you help me with this one’. It’s more of a positive nature.”
Bollinger says one key project for his region is widening Highway 133 from Albany-Dougherty County to Valdosta. It’s a key route for Albany’s Marine Corp Logistics base to move military equipment.