MacDuff extension makes transportation sales tax list
Will the public vote for the sales tax?
If a region-wide transportation sales tax passes next year, some Peachtree City commuters may rejoice.
The list of projects for sales tax funding was adopted Thursday, and a last-minute bid to add the extension of MacDuff Parkway was unanimously approved.
For drivers frustrated with the often-clogged artery known as Ga. Highway 54 West, the MacDuff extension could be the answer to some relief. Once completed, the MacDuff Parkway will link Ga. Highway 74 near Kedron Drive north to MacDuff Parkway’s signaled intersection on Hwy. 54 West.
But before you get visions of smooth-flowing traffic in your heads, here’s a dose of reality about the project. First, it won’t happen if the sales tax is voted down region-wide. And second, even if the tax is approved, it could take a number of years before the project is underway.
The project has been approved for some $6.4 million in funding, and it may take another $810,000 to complete. If so, those funds would come from the city’s projected $10 million share of sales tax funds that will be allowed to spend on any local transportation project.
The MacDuff extension was originally supposed to be constructed by two developers who had large chunks of land annexed into the city in 2007. But when the housing bubble burst, so did the developers’ plans for some 1,125 homes on 779 acres.
The annexation itself is in danger, as the city awaits the result of a citizen’s lawsuit that has been appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Although the MacDuff extension is seen as one with significant impact for Peachtree City commuters, another sales-tax funded project looms larger. Located a short distance across the county line in Fairburn, the congestion at the intersection of Hwy. 74 and Interstate 85 has long been a choke point for morning and afternoon commutes.
The sales tax project list includes $11.25 million in funding on top of an anticipated like amount in federal funding to pay for the improvements. Already, a preliminary study of traffic in the area has been completed and the state is working with Fairburn officials and Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown on the proposed design
The sales tax vote is currently slated for July 2012, but the possibility remains that it could be delayed until the presidential election in November. Doing so would require action by the Georgia Legislature, which created the first-ever regional sales tax process last year.
Georgia Tea Party representatives have strongly opposed moving the vote to November, based on the theory that more Democrats will vote in that election to cast ballots for President Barack Obama, thus increasing the chances of the vote passing region-wide.
The sales tax legislation was structured for the vote to be tallied in aggregate across the 10-county region. That means Fayette County has precious little clout at the ballot box because it is one of the least populous counties in the metro region.
So the possibility remains that Fayette County itself could vote down the tax, but if it is approved region-wide the tax will be assessed here and in the other nine counties.