Fayette’s road ‘wish list’ compiled, subject to regional sales tax OK

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The wish list of future regional transportation projects for Fayette County has been vetted by local government officials and is about to be sent to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The list represents the county’s request for regional funding through a proposed region-wide 1 percent sales tax that will be voted on in June 2012.

Among the large-scale road projects are the East Fayetteville Bypass, the widening of Ga. Highway 54 east of Fayetteville into Clayton County, and improvements to Tyrone/Palmetto Road.

Conspicuous from its absence is the third and final phase of the West Fayetteville Bypass, which has not yet been funded by the county commission. This is in large part because that project is so controversial that officials fear its presence on the list would lead to votes against the tax.

Peachtree City’s top projects on the list are the extension of MacDuff Parkway to Ga. Highway 74 North and also the “gateway” cart path bridge over Ga. Highway 54 West that would link a path along MacDuff Parkway with the Shoppes at the Village Piazza shopping center on the south side of the highway.

The MacDuff Parkway extension is viewed as a key to reducing traffic at the intersection of Hwys. 54 and 74.

On the list of projects is the already-funded work to combine the intersections of Ga. Highway 92 and Hood Avenue where they meet Hwy. 54. If the project were funded regionally, it would save about $8 million from the county’s transportation SPLOST, which is currently tabbed to foot the bill.

Another project would build a new road from the western portion of Hwy. 54 in Fayetteville to link with First Manassas Mile near the county landfill, providing a shorter route for the multiple tractor trailers that use the area.

All these projects were given the final once-over last week at a meeting of the Association of Fayette County Governments, which is a conglomerate group consisting of each local government elected official from each Fayette city and town along with the county commissioners.

The list has been amended and changed, tweaked and prodded over the past several weeks. At the AFCG meeting for example, the town of Woolsey asked for a project to be eliminated that would have realigned Hampton Road at Ga. Highway 92 South and perhaps extended Hampton Road further to the east.

It was explained that the extension would have resulted in some residents losing their homes, and so at Woolsey’s request the project was removed from the list.

County Commissioner Steve Brown expressed concern about the widening of Hwy. 54 east of Fayetteville, based on his fear that the project would become part of a “outer loop” project to circumnavigate the Atlanta area outside of I-285.

Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele said the highway widening is part of an effort to create a four-lane highway between Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Sharpsburg and Newnan.

“That’s what it is, a four-lane highway,” Steele said. “That’s all it is.”

The list also includes “strong support” for improvements to the interchange of Interstate 85 and Hwy. 74 in Fairburn.

The list, along with those from the other nine counties in the region, will be transmitted to the Georgia Department of Transportation. DOT in turn will whittle the project list down somewhat before the projects are pitched to the five-member executive committee of the Regional Transportation Roundtable.

Although the executive committee will further distill the projects to a recommended list, the full 21-member roundtable will have the final say on which projects are on and off the list, based on the first draft of the list compiled by GDOT.

Fayette County has two members on the roundtable: Fayetteville Mayor Steele and County Commission Chairman Herb Frady. Neither sits on the five-member executive committee.

The regional transportation sales tax initiative has been criticized in large part because Fayette nor any of the other nine metro Atlanta counties can opt out. Instead, if the vote is approved region-wide by an aggregate of voters, it will be implemented over a 10-year time frame.

That means even if Fayette votes the tax down, if it passes region-wide it will be implemented here as well as in the other nine counties which includes Fulton, DeKalb, Douglas, Rockdale, Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton and Henry counties.