If Columbia County roads seem to be getting more congested, there's a reason.
To be exact, there are 136,400 reasons.
That many cars, motorcycles, buses, heavy trucks, campers and trailers were registered in Columbia County in 2006 - a figure that is nearly double the 2001 number and 5,000 more than a year ago.
County officials say it's mostly the result of residential and commercial growth, which ultimately can be taxing on a county's roads.
The county's 2006 number of registered vehicles is 62,073 more than what was counted in 2001.
County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen said that 22 years ago, only about 40,000 vehicles and trailers were registered through her office.
With such an increase of vehicles, roads projects have become more in demand.
Last year, voters overwhelmingly approved a $43 million bond that included funds for 11 transportation projects.
Scott Herring, who heads the county's construction and maintenance division, said design work is progressing on many of the $16.9 million in transportation projects approved by voters.
He said design work is 90 percent complete on a $4.9 million project to widen Industrial Park Drive from Washington Road to Evans-to-Locks Road.
The project, which will widen the quarter-mile stretch from three to five lanes, is expected to begin later this year and be completed by the beginning of 2008, he said.
"Anytime you provide alternate routes or improved routes for people to go, it will improve travel time," he said, though he cautioned that widened roads tend to have higher demand after the work is done because motorists seek new routes.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on a half-mile center turn lane on Washington Road between Club Car and Flowing Wells Road, he said.
Right-of-way issues have been resolved between the Georgia Department of Transportation and CSX Railroad, and the long-anticipated project will be opened for bidding in the spring.
Herring said he expects the project will cost about $1.6 million.
Also under way are design studies that will be used by county officials to try to lure state transportation funds for widening projects along the arc of Owens, Gibbs and Cox roads and a portion of Hereford Farm Road.
About $925,000 is scheduled to draft plans to add a center turn lane to Hereford Farm Road between Belair to Gibbs roads, and the Owens-Gibbs-Cox arc from Mullins Crossing to the intersection of Cox and Washington roads.
Herring said he did not have a cost estimate or a scheduled completion date for that project.
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