2014-11-12 / News

FUNDED BY PENNY SALES TAX

Road projects underway in Burke
By Anne Marie Kyzer

Burke County is beginning to see the fruits of a special transportation sales tax, but revenue continues to lag behind predictions.

Work is underway in Sardis at the intersection of Charles Perry and Girard avenues, where improvements were designed to make it easier for trucks to pass through. This project was the first of five road projects in Burke County set to be funded by TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).

Three of the other projects, including a truck route around the west side of Waynesboro and the widening of Highway 56 North in two places, are slated to begin next May. The final project, another phase of widening on Highway 56 North, will begin in 2020.

The projected cost of completing all five projects is nearly $30 million, all of which would come from the one-cent sales tax.

The state began collecting the penny tax last year after voters in the CSRA transportation district approved the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) Referendum.

But since then, collections have fallen short of projections.

As of this summer, collections were about 16 percent behind in the CSRA, according to data posted in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s website.

Some 25 percent of total collections are distributed to local governments for transportation projects at their discretion.

Through August 2014, Burke County had been allotted a total of about $2.8 million over the past 20 months, according to the DOT. However, it was first predicted Burke County and its municipalities would receive a total of $1.8 million annually.

Despite the slow collections, DOT officials point to the projects that are underway thanks entirely to the tax.

“Through September the transportation tax has generated an extra $235 million in new dollars that are helping to fund projects that wouldn’t be underway without TIA,” DOT spokesperson Jill Goldberg said.

Of that amount, about $107,687,797 has been in the CSRA district, which includes Burke and 12 other counties.

BACKGROUND

The Transportation Investment Act (TIA) Referendum was passed by Georgia voters in the regions of Central Savannah River Area, Heart of Georgia - Altamaha and River Valley. Voters in nine other regions across the state rejected the tax. These three regions are implementing a one-percent regional sales tax over a 10-year period to fund transportation improvements. Georgia DOT is responsible for the management of the budget, schedule, execution and delivery of all approved projects that were proposed.

BURKE COUNTY PROJECTS

Sardis Intersection Improvement Charles Perry and Girard avenues Cost: $567,548

West Waynesboro Truck Route Will connect Highway 56 South to Highway 25 North and the existing Burke Veterans Parkway (bypass) Budget: $4.471 million

Highway 56 Widening-Phase I Widen 1.35 miles of Highway 56 to four lanes from the Richmond/Burke County Line to SR 23 Budget: $7.3 million

Highway 56 Widening-Phase II Widening of Highway 56 from the US 25 Bypass North to Cates Mead Road Budget: $13.6 million

Highway 56 Widening-Phase III Widen SR 56 from Cates Mead Road to SR 80 - a distance of 0.71 miles Budget: $3.873 million

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