The longtime plan for widening and relocation of 3.5 miles of Ga. Hwy. 92 is among Douglas County projects which include a new $19 million traffic control center for I-20; and widening of Veterans Memorial Highway and Thornton, Lee and South Sweetwater roads.
Douglasville City Manager Bill Osborne noted the city spent $3 million on preliminary engineering and environmental studies before GDOT took control of the Hwy. 92 project.
“It’s a safety project first and foremost,” he said.
However, Osborne said he believes the project will be built more quickly if voters approve the T-SPLOST because it will create a predictable funding timeline.
Jeff Noles, director of development services for the city of Douglasville, said the project — which would reroute the highway eastward under a series of new bridges carrying the railroad, U.S. Highway 78 and Strickland Street — would allow emergency vehicles to avoid an unpredictable traffic situation at crossings over the Norfolk Southern railroad. Such first-responders as ambulances, firefighters and police must go miles out of the way and add unneeded response time when trains stop on the tracks and close the crossings, he said.
County transportation director Randy Hulsey also noted the current road affects mobility inside the city core because general traffic is forced to mix with freight traffic working to reach I-20. “It’s a quality of life issue,” Hulsey said.
Noles said the project to relocate the highway has been discussed for about 20 years.
“Every scenario has been looked at,” he said, noting a relocation plan was discussed as far back as 1975.
James Bell of the Georgia Taxpayers Alliance said he favors defeating the regional transportation sales tax and allow residents to either see a more “realistic” project list in 2014 or individual counties to vote for their own transportation sales tax for projects like Hwy. 92, he said.
Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan, who serves as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Committee, said the project is in the regional commission’s Transportation Improvement Plan “and thankfully, is not dependent on the passage of the T-SPLOST.”
“Additional funding for this project was included in the T-SPLOST referendum list to offset anticipated 2013 federal funding cuts, and to ensure that the project
would not be delayed,” Worthan said.