Coweta commissioners look at transportation projects

An overview of upcoming transportation projects presented to Coweta County commissioners last week showed what should be a host of activity spanning the next three years. Some of the projects will be funded by 1-cent Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) dollars, with others funded by the county’s general fund budget and still others by the Georgia Dept. of Transportation (GDOT).

A sampling of the SPLOST road construction projects for 2010 include Lower Fayetteville Road at Ga. Highway 15 at a cost of $2.1 million and Hal Jones Road at U.S. Highway 29 for $1.96 million.

“2010 is going to be a pretty aggressive year,” said county Engineering & Development Director Wayne Kennedy.

SPLOST projects expected in 2011 include Pine Road/Ga. Highway 16 at U.S. 29 for $2.3 million and Macedonia Road at Hwy. 16 for $1.4 million. And work in 2012 addresses needs such as the southeast bypass extension that should be funded by GDOT at $20 million, Hwy. 16/U.S. 29 at I-85 for $1.61million in state funds and $420,000 in SPLOST funds and Lora Smith Road at Lower Fayetteville Road using $1.3 million in SPLOST dollars.

Roads are not the only transportation-related issues facing the county. Some of the county’s bridges are in need of work, with some destined for replacement with concrete box culverts where applicable, Kennedy said. Box culvert projects run approximately $500,000, he added.

SPLOST-funded bridge projects for 2010 include Luther Bailey Road at Dead Oak Creek at a cost of $450,000, Luther Bailey at Double Branch at $400,000 and Reese Road at Keg Creek at $400,000. GDOT bridge projects for 2010 include White Oak Creek at Cannon Road and CXS Railroad on Greentop Road.

Further into the future, SPLOST funding is expected to pay for bridge work at Moore Road and White Oak tributary in 2011 and Moore Road at Little White Oak Creek in 2012. Still other bridge projects, as yet unconfirmed as to the date and funding source, include Little White Oak Creek at Al Roberts Road, Keg Creek at McIntosh Trail and projects along creeks on Holbrook Road, Mt. Carmel Road and J.D. Walton Road.

The condition of some of Coweta’s bridges mirrors that of bridges in communities across America. Kennedy said all 13 bridges on the project list, along with 10 others, have a sufficiency rating score of 30-50 points. Bridges scoring below 50 are considered to be in need of replacement, he explained. Citing a specific example from the list, Kennedy said the Shoal Creek bridge at Lower Fayetteville Road has a rating of 7 points.

Identifying transportation needs is one thing. Paying for them is another.  Money from the county’s general fund budget now and in coming years will also be needed to cover some transportation activities, especially the costs associated with repair and resurfacing work that is essentially ongoing in locations around the county’s 900 miles of roads in a land mass that totals 446 square miles.     

And that was the point stressed by Kennedy and Public Works Director Bill Cawthorne.

“The surface life of a road in 17 years,” Kennedy told commissioners, adding that SPLOST requirements usually preclude the cost of road maintenance. That 17-year average includes variables such as weather and traffic. “325 of the 900 miles are in subdivisions. And every year we take in twice as many roads as we repair.”

General fund projects for 2010, coming directly from local property taxes and other sources, total $4.05 million. The estimate for 2011 and 2012 totaled $12 million each year, with much of that funding designated for repair and resurfacing activities.