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County mulls referendum on bond for transportation projects

Commission votes to send letter to state DOT

POSTED: August 1, 2014 12:06 a.m.
FCN file photo/

Among the projects being considered for a possible transportation bond is the widening of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 369.

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FORSYTH COUNTY — The Forsyth County commissioner took a big step Thursday morning toward holding a referendum on a transportation bond.

During a called meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to send a letter to the state Department of Transportation outlining several projects the county would like to work together on to fund.

Commissioners are strongly considering putting the bond referendum on the ballot for the Nov. 4 General Election.

On Tuesday, County Attorney Ken Jarrard explained that the letter is needed to establish an agreement between the two parties.

“If the board of commissioners is inclined to authorize a general obligation bond referendum in November for transportation projects, we may want to have something formal in place with GDOT indicating that if we can come up with this funding, they will in fact partner with us to also partially fund or contribute toward these road projects,” he said.

A transportation committee, made up of some commissioners and county staff, has been exploring the possibility of a transportation bond for some time. It’s still in the process of finalizing the list of projects that would go before the voters, as well as the total amount of the proposed bond program.

The letter approved Thursday outlines six projects that likely would be funded through a combination of bond money and state and federal funding.

They include the widening of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 369 by adding one lane in each direction, as well as widening Post Road from two to four lanes between Hwy. 9 and Kelly Mill Road, and Hwy. 369 from between Hwys. 9 and 306.

Other projects include construction of a “continuous flow intersection” at Hwy. 369 and Ga. 400, and a “full-diamond interchange” on Ga. 400 at McGinnis Ferry Road.

The latter project would add a north and southbound auxiliary lane on Ga. 400 between the Windward Parkway and the McGinnis Ferry Road ramps, and between the McGinnis and the McFarland ramps. Southbound 400 would be widened by one lane at the McFarland exit.

The letter lists Forsyth’s proposed portion of the six projects at $81 million, with another $5 million coming from the state and another $133 million in federal funds.

However, those figures likely will change. According to Jarrard, the letter is simply a starting point for a possible partnership.

“This letter is a success if it results in a response from GDOT that says, ‘Yes, we will commit to this at this point; let’s work together on an [intergovernmental agreement],’” he said.

Also during the called meeting, commissioners touched on some other projects that could be placed on the bond referendum list, as well as the bond’s possible total, which could be $200 million over 20 years.

The other projects include improvements to McFarland, McGinnis Ferry, Union Hill and Old Atlanta roads in south Forsyth, and Pilgrim Mill Road from the Cumming city limits to Freedom Parkway, among others.

In addition, funding might be set aside for various intersection and safety improvements across Forsyth.

According to figures from county staff, a $200 million bond would equal a tax increase of about $128 per year on a $250,000 home, or $185 for a $350,000. 

Chairman Pete Amos asked his fellow commissioners if they felt comfortable with that number.

“I think so,” Brian Tam said. “I think if we don’t knock out some of these lingering projects now, we’re going to have a real problem.”

Added Todd Levent: “People will pay more than that in gas, sitting idling in traffic.”

Jim Boff was “a little uncomfortable with the size of this.”

“It seems too big to me,” he said. “But, I’m not necessarily opposed to it. I will be very keen to hear, if I can, what people think of it.”

Tam added that he doesn’t believe the cost would be out of line based on the fact that Forsyth continues to rapidly add population and the accompanying traffic congestion.

“I think it’s important as the seventh-fastest growing county [in the nation], to look at some of the things the other six [counties] are doing,” he said. “This [type of bond] is not uncommon. There’s a community in Texas that’s going out for their second $250 million transportation bond.”

Members of the transportation committee will meet again at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to resume finalizing the project list. They are scheduled to bring it to the full commission Aug. 12, the date by which it must be approved to make the November ballot.

 

COMMENTS

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2 comments
MADJAX: August 2, 2014 6:56 a.m.

Just look to how "Priority" has played-out for the perpetual NON-COMPLETION of those several improvements slated of Our Local "Collector-Roads" and Intersections over the last decade for what regard WAS paid to those Roadway & Infrastructure "Projects" that actually became expedited...yet the very-same ones get re-sold to Us again-and-again within every SPLOST proposal!

Look therein and You'll find the Devils-in-the-Details of how HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Our SPLOST Tax Dollars rather went diverted - indeed just as "Prioritized" - to rather complete the likes of Freedom Parkway, Ronald Regan Boulevard, etc., as "Fast-Tracked" and as "Time-Sensitive" as-possible to rather accomodate the likes of future Growth of BUSINESS moreso than relive the coagulation of Our Arterial Roadways existing at-that-time THEN, and It has only matastisized into the daily nightmares of TRAFFIC We experience for-It TODAY!

Brian Tam said “I think if we don’t knock out some of these lingering projects now, we’re going to have a real problem.”

Added Todd Levent “People will pay more than that in gas, sitting idling in traffic.”

Jim Boff is “a little uncomfortable with the size of this.” and says “It seems too big to me, But, I’m not necessarily opposed to it. I will be very keen to hear, if I can, what people think of it.”

Tam added that he doesn’t believe the cost would be out of line based on the fact that Forsyth continues to rapidly add population and the accompanying traffic congestion, saying “I think it’s important as the seventh-fastest growing county [in the nation], to look at some of the things the other six [counties] are doing,” he said. “This [type of bond] is not uncommon. There’s a community in Texas that’s going out for their second $250 million transportation bond.”

I say We should think-twice about jumping onto any such Band-Wagon, and that a full THIRD of what's being proposed here is yet-again being MIS-PRIORITIZED.

Transportaion Bond proposals hereout must include consideration and funding of projects that ALSO promote "Independant Mobility" (ie; Bi-Ped Pathways vs. "Sidewalk, Curb, & Gutter") otherwise short-sightedly amiss Our "Planing" of past, whearas indeed We only continue suffering the fact many of Us live within a mile of Schools, Stores, and Churches yet MUST DRIVE a Motor Vehicle to get there!


mosesdds: August 2, 2014 8:59 p.m.

***** WHICH BANK GETS THE MONEY? ***** *

Ok, let's assume that the voters pass the $200 million bond for roads.

In which bank will the county deposit that money until it is used?
A) Cindy's Bank -- Community Business Bank
B) Pete's Bank -- Citizens Bank of Forsyth County
C) Ford's and Tam's Bank -- United Community Bank
D) Jack's Bank -- oops! Closed by FDIC

What to consider:
1) The bank that will be the recipient for housing Forsyth County's Bond money will reap a windfall.
2) Which Commissioner and their bank do you trust?
3) How will the decision be made on which bank the commissioners will choose?
4) Will some commissioners have to recuse themselves?
5) Will the commissioners ignore the recommendation of their staff when they propose the best deal for the county, and choose their cronies' bank? (This occurred just a few years ago.)



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