Regional sales tax may ‘speed up’ East Fayetteville Bypass

As construction plows ahead with the West Fayetteville Bypass, progress is being made behind the scenes on the East Fayetteville Bypass, according to Fayette County Public Works Director Phil Mallon.

But if a regional sales tax is approved in July 2012, that timetable could be sped up significantly, Mallon said. That's because the county would no longer need federal funds for the project, and it wouldn’t have to go through the tedious federal pre-construction process, officials said.

The current conceptual alignment has the bypass starting at Hwy. 85 and Corinth Road, following the length of Corinth Road to Ga. Highway 54. From Hwy. 54 a new section of road would be built to reach a new intersection at McDonough Road. From there the road will follow the path of the existing County Line Road to the intersection of County Line, south Jeff Davis and Inman roads.

The $39.4 million project is actually slated for $49 million in funding through the regional sales tax, as state officials think it will cost more than the county’s initial cost estimate.

The other upshot is that if the regional sales tax is approved, the county will be able to save its projected $18.3 million contribution, which could then be spent on other transportation projects authorized by the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax.

Critics of the regional transportation sales tax proposal claim Fayette won’t control its destiny with the tax, since the vote is being tabulated by using the aggregate vote from all 10 metro Atlanta counties combined. That means that even if Fayette voters defeat the tax here, but it passes regionwide, the tax will still be collected here for the full 10-year term.

Officials envision the bypass being used by residents from Clayton County who normally travel through downtown Fayetteville. If that is true, the 6.2 mile road stands to significantly reduce commuter traffic in the downtown area.

The bypass would fall short, however, of the southern end of Fayetteville, failing to reach either Ga. Highway 92 south or Ga. Highway 85 south.

A final alignment for the road has not yet been approved by the Fayette County Commission.

Without the sales tax funding, county staff is anticipating that $21.1 million in state and federal funds will be available. That would leave the remaining $18.3 million to come from the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax revenues.

Although the road path for the East Fayetteville Bypass will be two lanes in many sections, the county will buy enough right of way to upgrade the road to four lanes if such is needed in the future, officials have said.

There will also be sections of the bypass that will have three lanes, particularly at intersections to allow smoother traffic flow, and also along areas where there are multiple existing access points for motorists.

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