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Additional tax has tough road ahead

Posted: October 14, 2011 - 4:32pm  |  Updated: October 15, 2011 - 11:40pm

There is plenty of time - about nine months, as a matter of fact - to debate the relative merits of the regional transportation projects that a panel on Tuesday approved.

And, of course, it is entirely possible to dismiss the relative merits, or lack thereof, of that list of projects outright, based on nothing more than opposition to the idea of adding another penny tax to each dollar consumers spend.

But for any voters who aren't so quick to reject the proposal, or for those who are just curious about it, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering the pieces of the $621 million plan for the 13-county Augusta region, of which Columbia County is part.

First, Georgia's transportation system is a mess - and not just from wear and tear. The state Department of Transportation famously made much of the mess itself with funding improprieties that will haunt the state for years to come. The department has been reformed with new leadership, but it's still a matter of fact that any new funding will, at least in part, be used to recover from those mistakes.

Second, whatever any county's voters decide, the voters from all 13 counties in our region - and in all 159 counties across the state - will decide via majority in each region. While Columbia County is second only to Richmond County in size, it still will have its votes weighed against the rest of the counties in the region.

We've been down that road before: Way back when, voters statewide approved a state constitutional amendment doing away with elected school superintendents. Columbia County voters, by a wide margin, wanted to keep electing theirs - but lost because of the statewide majority.

As a rule, sales tax proposals of any kind are piled with projects that are voter-friendly, because it's the one case in which voters actually have a direct say in how (or whether) the money is spent. This one is unusual for a couple of reasons, however, because it isn't an individual county vote, and because the proposal adds, rather than merely renews, a sales tax.

Ultimately, no voter should accept or reject anything at the ballot box without studying it. Whether they decide to approve this proposal likely will have less to do with how attractive the $621 million in new transportation projects are, than in how unattractive any additional tax sounds.

TSPLOST projects, by county:

Burke

Hwy 56 widening - Phase 1 $7,300,000

Hwy 56 widening - Phase 2 $13,600,000

Hwy 56 widening - Phase 3 $3,873,000

Sardis truck intersection improvements $500,000

Waynesboro westside truck route $4,471,195

Columbia

Flowing Wells Rd - Widen to 4 lanes with median, bike lanes, sidewalks $20,000,000

Furys Ferry Rd - Widen to 4 lanes from Evans to Locks Rd to S.C. line $50,210,984

Horizon South Pkwy - Widen from I-20 to Wrightsboro Rd $26,198,019

Horizon South Pkwy - Widen to 4 lanes from I-20 to Columbia Rd $25,505,908

I-20 at Appling-Harlem Rd bridge replacement, intersection improvements $11,040,000

Riverwatch Pkwy - 4 lanes from Baston Rd to Washington Rd $20,000,000

Robinson Ave - Improvements from Gordon Hwy to Wrightsboro Rd $11,066,000

Glascock

School access road - No project info $500,000

Hancock

Gettis St - Sidewalks, curbing, piping - .6 miles $792,000

Hwy 15 - Sparta bypass $11,585,960

Hwy 22 West - Improvements $154,688

Jefferson

Convert Hoyt Braswell Rd to truck route $4,341,344

Louisville Bypass $5,000,000

Wrens - Walker St from US 1 to Young St $500,000

Jenkins

Widen US 25 and add turn lanes $2,072,197

Lincoln

Hwy 43 - Add 2 passing lanes between Thurmond Lake and SR 220 $6,232,000

Hwy 47 - Passing lanes for 2.48 miles $1,000,000

McDuffie

Hwy 17 - 1.15 miles drainage, curbing, sidewalks from Whiteoak Rd to Harrison Rd $2,500,000

Hwy 17 - Widen to 4 lanes from Lincolnton Rd to Smith Mill Rd, replace 2 bridges $4,000,000

Thomson west bypass - New Roadway from 3 Points Rd to Hwy 17 $16,987,900

Richmond

11th St - Repair bridge over Augusta Canal $579,642

13th St - Improvements from RA Dent Blvd to Reynolds St $3,060,855

15th St - Pedestrian improvements from Calhoun Expy to Central Ave $5,042,695

15th St - Widening from Milledgeville Rd to Government Rd $21,415,267

5th St Bridge repair $9,149,610

6th St - Improvements from Laney Walker Boulevard to Reynolds St $6,843,938

7th St - Replace bridge over Augusta Canal $748,856

Augusta Public Transit - Operations and maintenance $7,550,000

Bath Edie Rd at Patterson Rd - Intersection improvements $415,000

Berckmans Rd - Realignment and widening from Wheeler Rd to Washington Rd $16,700,000

Berckmans Rd - Replace bridge at Raes Creek $3,707,973

Broad St - Improvements from Washington Rd to Sandbar Ferry Rd $25,000,000

Broad St - Repair bridge at Augusta Canal $1,320,929

Broad St - Repair bridge at Hawks Gully $713,562

Brothersville Rd at Hwy 88 - Intersection Improvements $415,000

Calhoun Expy - Repair and reconstruction $8,505,470

Daniel Field Airport - Bulk and maintenance hangar doors $1,000,000

Druid Park Ave - Improvements from Walton Way to Wrightsboro Rd $3,512,456

Emergency and transit vehicle preemption system $1,500,000

Gordon Hwy - Median barrier from US 25 to Walton Way $14,000,000

Gordon Hwy and Deans Bridge Rd - Intersection improvements $1,065,000

Greene St - Improvements from 13th St to East Boundary $9,880,736

Highland Ave - Bridge repair over CSX railroad $1,598,109

Highland Ave Resurfacing from Wrightsboro Rd to Wheeler Rd $271,557

Intelligent transportation system master plan implementation $4,550,000

Jackson Rd - Resurfacing from Walton Way to Wrightsboro Rd $323,993

James Brown Blvd - Reconstruction $6,193,980

Marks Church Rd - Widening from Wrightsboro Rd to Wheeler Rd $7,849,390

Milledgeville Rd - Rocky Creek bridge maintenance $83,842

North Leg Rd - Improvements from Sibley Rd to Wrightsboro Rd $3,832,757

Old Waynesboro Rd - Replace bridge over Spirit Creek $3,183,287

Pleasant Home Rd - Improvements from Riverwatch Pkwy to Walton Way Ext $291,288

Rehabilitate air carrier and general aviation aprons $8,400,400

Riverwatch Pkwy - Adaptive signal project $682,087

Riverwatch Pkwy - Corridor improvements from I-20 to River Shoals $2,518,810

Riverwatch Pkwy - Corridor improvements from I-20 to River Shoals $2,518,810

Riverwatch Pkwy and Furys Ferry Rd - Intersection improvements $515,966

Riverwatch Pkwy and Stevens Creek Rd - Intersection improvements $430,739

Scotts Way - Replace bridge over Raes Creek $1,358,566

Telfair St - Improvements from 15th St to East Boundary $19,233,219

Walton Way - Repair bridge over Hawks Gully $548,856

Walton Way - Signal modernization from Bransford Rd to Milledge Rd $5,252,616

Walton Way - Signal modernization from Druid Park to Heard Ave $2,325,000

Windsor Spring Rd - Improvements from Tobacco Rd to Willis Foreman Rd $4,000,000

Windsor Spring Rd - Road and bridge widening $2,000,000

Wrightsboro Rd - Widening from Jimmie Dyess Pkwy to Bobby Jones Expy $2,000,000

Taliaferro

Bethany Church Rd - Bridge replacement over North Fork Ogeechee River $500,000

Warren

I-20 Frontage Rd - Phase 1 $2,500,000

I-20 Frontage Rd - Phase 2 $2,500,000

Washington

Deepstep Rd - Resurfacing $2,800,000

Hwy 15 - Sandersville bypass $37,773,566

Wilkes

Hwy 10 - Passing lanes $200,000

Hwy 17 - Widen to 4 lanes with median $5,800,000

Robert Toombs Ave - Resurfacing $606,906

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