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Future road improvements slated for next year

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

The 27 homeowners living on, or near, Simpson Mill Road will get a chance to find out some preliminary details on a future road project affecting their property.

A public information meeting is scheduled for Monday (Nov. 17) to discuss road improvements planned for the half-paved road, which is a south-north connector between Hampton-Locust Grove Road and Georgia Highway 20-81.

The meeting will be from 6:30 p.m., to 8 p.m., in the Government Annex Community Room, and public comments will be heard.

Residents need not worry. According to Henry County Communications Director Julie Hoover-Ernst, digging won't begin for awhile. "It is expected to begin in the fall of 2009," she said.

Roque Romero, transportation manager for the county's SPLOST Department, said the improvements are needed because part of the road is still gravel, and paving it the rest of the way will make it easier for motorists and school buses to drive through the area.

Romero said new schools will be built in the area, and the need for a paved road will increase in the future. "You're going to have three new schools west of that intersection," he said. "It will definitely help the buses [and] the road will be wider and safer."

There are already three schools nearby, east of the road, specifically Luella elementary, middle and high schools.

Romero said the planned construction project is still in the preliminary, planning stages, and explained that any road widening that occurs will only be slight.

The county will need to work with residents to begin acquiring the right-of-way to any property that will be affected by the roadwork. Hoover-Ernst said the first step in that process will be to send out letters informing homeowners of plans to buy a portion of their property, if needed. "They have to start by getting citizen buy-ins," she explained.

The public information session, officials said, will be a good way for homeowners to find out early what's planned without any surprises.

"If there are any concerns, then it's better to know up front, before we do any of the designing," Romero said.