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Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 11:53am

GDOT Board Advances TSPLOST Construction

Board members of the Georgia Department of Transportation voted Thursday to move forward with the bidding process for what the DOT called the first large project funded through the Transportation Investment Act (TIA).

TIA has been commonly referred to as T-SPLOST, or Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Last summer, three regions of the state voted to enact the special tax to pay for transportation projects. Of the funds collected, 75 percent go to larger, predetermined projects shepherded by the DOT and 25 percent go to the individual cities and counties that approved T-SPLOST.

Bidding will begin Friday for the project, which will widen U.S. 27 in Randolph County.

“After completion of this project, we will have four lane connection from Columbus to Tallahassee and that’s a big milestone and it is fantastic that it was a part of TIA,” said Sam Wellborn, who represents the 3rd Congressional District on the GDOT board.

His district covers Columbus and the surrounding River Valley Region, which collected nearly $14.5 million dollars in additional TIA tax revenue from January to April of this year. The DOT projected that region will collect a total of $50 million by the end of 2013.

“The way that the program is set up, we’re moving it in stages so that we spend what we have,” explained GDOT Spokeswoman Jill Goldberg. “We don’t pre-spend money on it, but we have enough to go to the next phase of it and we know collections are estimated to cover each phase that we need. So, we’re moving with it that way and if we need to make adjustments, we will.”

The bidding process should take two to three weeks with the construction phase to begin in about three months. The entire widening project should be complete within three years.

The board celebrated another TIA victory Thursday. The first local TSPLOST project was expected to be open to traffic in Toombs County on Friday. Crews from a construction company based in Vidalia added a dedicated turn lane to on State Route 130 near Lyons. That project cost about $160,000.