A topic the Forsyth County commission tabled appeared to draw more discussion than any item that came up for a vote Thursday night.
In a 3-2 decision, an agenda item titled “board consideration and possible modification of Castleberry Road widening project” was ultimately postponed to an undetermined future date.
Commissioner Pete Amos, who made the motion to table, said the commission should revisit the matter when funding is available.
Commissioners Todd Levent and Patrick Bell placed the item on the agenda and voted against tabling it.
Several speakers addressed the commission on the ongoing debate of whether Castleberry should or could be downsized from plans that call for it to be widened to four lanes with median. They propose improvements with turn lanes.
The 1-cent sales tax project was originally approved by voters in the fifth round of the special purpose local option sales tax in 2003.
It has since rolled over to the sixth round and the seventh, which voters passed in November.
The project has been carried over due to the economic downturn, which has hampered tax collections, and the county granting residents’ requests to lower its priority.
Levent, the district’s representative, made a statement in favor of downsizing the project’s four-lane scope after the public comments Thursday.
The project must be completed, he said, but added that new data on the road’s traffic doesn’t warrant the major widening any longer.
“The law is also clear that the local government has the discretion to make adjustments in plans for advertised SPLOST projects based on new data,” Levent said.
The most recent SPLOST referendum includes $9.4 million for the project, with the funding split between the top and lower priority categories.
The county has spent nearly $9 million on the design and right-of-way acquisition for the project during previous sales tax collections.
Those who live along the two-lane road have also asked to lessen the scope of the project to three lanes, which often refers to adding turn lanes.
Tony DeMaria cited the traffic study used by the county, which predicted the volume would be 76 percent higher in 2011 than the actual amount.
“We don’t have congestion at all,” DeMaria said. “It needs to be improved from a safety standpoint … [but] if we spend $9.2 million, we’re spending it on the wrong road.”
Robert Nycz agreed that the road experiences “very little traffic.”
“Make it a little wider, safer,” Nycz said, “but not a freeway.”
He pointed to the ballot language, which he said states Castleberry is an improvement project and doesn’t mention widening.
Former commissioner David Richard, however, advised the commission to “start digging” as promised.
“The mandate was given to the board of commissioners almost 10 years ago,” Richard said. “You’re already in material breach of contract on this project, as you’ve not only passed SPLOST VI, you’ve passed SPLOST VII, and you haven’t even completed a major project in SPLOST V.”