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Bulk of projects clear first hurdle
Regional sales tax may pay for roadwork
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County appears to be in good position for some road improvements on a 2012 referendum for a 1-cent sales tax for transportation.

Nearly all of the projects the county and city of Cumming requested, about 50 in total, have cleared the state transportation department’s planning review.

The next step will be to narrow down those and about 100 other items from across the 13-county Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.

The list must be whittled to include only those projects that could be handled within the nearly $1 billion the proposed tax may yield for the region over 10 years, if approved by voters.

"It’s a pretty good list of remaining projects," said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt.

Among the efforts are widening Bethelview Road from Castleberry Road to Hwy. 20, and adding lanes to Ga. 400, both from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 20 and between Hwys. 20 and 306.

Voters in all 13 counties of the region will be asked to approve the regional transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.

If approved, about 75 percent of the money collected would go toward regional projects and 25 percent to local efforts.

"We understand that this is a region-oriented type SPLOST and so we’ve got to have things in there that [are] regionally planned," Gravitt said.

"I’m sure we’ll have some in the county that will be taken off, but we never get as many as we want. But at the same time, we’ve got to divide out with the other portion of the Georgia Mountain District."

Gravitt noted three of the city’s five requests made the list of 50. They include work at two intersections along Veterans Memorial Boulevard — Hwy. 20 and Maple Street — and the Kelly Mill-Hwy. 20 crossing.

"We had Hwy. 9 north, which is a congested bypass to Ga. 400, and we had it on there and we felt like it deserves some regional attention … that was one of the ones that I thought would have been left on there," the mayor said.

From here, the regional commission’s five-member executive committee, which includes Gravitt, must trim the list to meet financial limitations by Aug. 15.

The commission’s 26-member roundtable will then have until Oct. 15 to submit a final list.

Gravitt and Forsyth County Commission Chairman Brian Tam both serve on the roundtable.

"We are going to have several meetings about it … to be sure that everybody is as happy as they can be with the project list," Gravitt said.