McDonough officials back county transportation plans

City leaders in McDonough have thrown their collective support behind a proposed measure, to fund transportation projects in Henry County with taxpayer dollars.

The McDonough City Council voted unanimously to support provisions in House Bill 277, of the Georgia Legislature. The bill is set for a vote next year, according to Lee Hearn, Public Works Director for McDonough, who detailed the county's plans for the council.

HB 277, he said, proposes a 1 percent regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for transportation projects.

"The county is seeking out the support of all the cities, on the projects that we're going forward with, in House Bill 277," Hearn told the council. "When Henry County submits the project list, it carries a lot more weight if the cities, and the county, are all in agreement with the project list that's being submitted as part of this ... program."

Hearn added that the county met with leaders from all four cities Feb. 7, to go over details of its plans for the bill. The county, he said, is due to submit a list of road projects to the Georgia Department of Transportation, March 31.

The county's project list includes the construction of managed lanes on Interstate 75 South, in Henry County, as well as improvements to the I-75 interchange at Jodeco Road, according to Hearn. Additional transportation endeavors would be dedicated to widening Ga. Highway 23/42 and Ga. Highway 155 in McDonough, Rock Quarry Road in Stockbridge, and Bill Gardner Parkway in Locust Grove, he said.

"Those projects will be part of a financially constrained project list that's put together an executive committee," Hearn added.

A regional roundtable has been commissioned to come up with a transportation project list, Aug. 15.

"There won't be any financial constraints on that [list], and that's due Aug. 15," Hearn told the council. "In October, there will be a constrained project list."

Members of the roundtable include Henry Commission Chairman, Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, said McDonough District III Councilman Wayne Smith, during the meeting. Smith praised county leaders, for their commitment to improving transportation locally.

"Henry County is going to have strong representation in this process, as it moves forward," said Smith. "Last week, the [Atlanta Regional Commission] listed millions of dollars worth of projects that were being dropped from the transportation improvement program, that affect a number of communities.

"Henry County collectively — the county and the cities — did not have a single project removed from the list for failure to do something on our part," the councilman continued. "That's certainly a positive indication of all the hard work that's going on."

Smith added that the transportation SPLOST would give the county additional funding, with which to "leverage" federal dollars.

"We will also have significantly more discretionary funding, to use on local projects, as we try to supplement our transportation needs with the current SPLOST program," said Smith.

McDonough At-large City Councilwoman, Gail Notti, also commended county officials for working to improve transportation in the area. Such a project, she said, is long overdue in Henry.

"We have certainly stood in line to get ourselves in this position," she said. "We've watched our counterparts on the north side, and east and west of us, receive funding year after year, that we desperately felt like we needed for our communities."