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1-11-05 GA 316 Needs Money Not Headlines and Talk

Upgrading University Parkway can be done.  However, it will require joint effort and teamwork.  The current criticism reminds me of my favorite saying by the late Speaker Sam Rayburn: “… Any jackass can tear down a barn…It takes a craftsman to build one.”  GA 316 needs more craftsmen!

AVOC

 

January 9, 2005

 

GA 316 Needs Money Not Headlines and Talk

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

More headlines came from the “toll controversy” recently when the GA DOT Board decided to get more input before proceeding further.

 

The road will never be upgraded without some real leadership.  Too often, as reported here in Gwinnett, Legislators want control and say-so but provide no funding.  They are in position to fund the road with Gas Tax or sales taxes.    It is easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize and want the power of veto but contribute nothing substantive to the upgrade.

 

Not many Gwinnett Legislators were very helpful in past years in discussing and planning the upgrade.  Former Gwinnett Chairman Wayne Hill and former DOT Commissioner Wayne Shackelford were strong supporters for upgrading the road- the full length.

 

The Gwinnett end needs more immediate correction.  GA 20 and the I – 85 intersections on GA 316 are the worst bottlenecks on the road.  However, if the UGA end is left unimproved for years, then development will make it prohibitively expensive.

 

There needs to be a “local toll” to deal with folks who use GA 316 but do not travel the full length.  Much of the opposition is coming from folks using the road locally and, of course, the amount of the toll.

 

Upgrading University Parkway can be done.  However, it will require joint effort and teamwork.  The current criticism reminds me of my favorite saying by the late Speaker Sam Rayburn: “… Any jackass can tear down a barn…It takes a craftsman to build one.”  GA 316 needs more  craftsmen!


The Gwinnett Daily Post

      http://www.gwinnettdailyonline.com/GDP/archive/article0DCC353E4AFB49F79BCF3D34BE8BC0EA.asp

 

January 6, 2005

 

Gwinnett projects could cut costs by one-eighth

 

By Camie Young

 

LAWRENCEVILLE — While the State Transportation Board is considering a toll proposal, several lawmakers are scratching their heads trying to find some other way to fund upgrades to Ga. Highway 316.  At the very least, they are looking at ways to lessen the toll on drivers.


Changes could also come this session to the law that allows public-private partnerships such as the proposal from the Parkway Group to finance the $00 million upgrade up front and then collect tolls to pay for the work.


“We’re looking at several options to keep from having a $.70 toll,” said Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Comer, who represents Barrow County.  Hudgens said the toll could be lowered by using tax allocation districts or a transportation infrastructure bank to raise some of the money.


And $00 million in federal and state funds already pledged for projects in Gwinnett County could cut the cost of the upgrades by one-eighth.


“The congestion is not the problem in Barrow and Oconee counties. There, it’s safety,” Hudgens said. “We could tackle it as two problems.”

Hudgens and several other lawmakers met earlier this week to talk about Ga. 316, a 39-mile route that links Lawrenceville to Athens.
While the State Transportation Board is the only body to vote on the toll, legislators are hoping they can influence the outcome.


Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, was also part of the contingent, and he says if the $00 million is used to lessen the toll, then tolls shouldn’t be applied to the Gwinnett portion of the highway.
“I’m adamantly working to get the tolls off the Gwinnett portion,” Heard said. “If we have the corrections in place in Gwinnett, why do we need to have a toll on it? We’ve got our fixes down. Why should we have to pay for theirs?”   AVOC Note:Turf Protection Here and Parochialism.


Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Bert Brantley said design work has already begun to turn the intersections at Collins Hill Road and Ga. Highway 20 into an interchange and to add high occupancy vehicle lanes to the Gwinnett portion.


Brantley said that even Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl has talked about using those funds to “pay down the toll.”


But part of the reason for entering into a public-private partnership is to free up money for other uses. Throwing the $00 million back into the mix, Brantley said, could mean other important projects won’t get funded.


Brantley said there is no indication how much a toll could cost drivers if the Gwinnett projects occur separately.
“That’s definitely the idea, to buy it down a little bit, if that’s possible,” he said. “I haven’t heard of any idea being pulled off the table.”


Other possible modes of financing discussed this week include tax allocation districts and a transportation infrastructure bank, which was proposed in the General Assembly last year but did not get passed.


Newly elected Rep. Terry England, who represents much of Barrow County, said during his campaign he supported a toll at about 50 to 75 cents to travel the stretch, but the proposal comes close to $.
“It seemed to be a consensus to try to do something else,” England said of the meeting of representatives and senators from the corridor.


England said he was “pleasantly surprised,” to learn that the State Transportation Board delayed an initial vote on the matter.


“It’ll buy us a little time to look at alternative financing,” he said.
Hudgens said that as soon as the House and Senate transportation committees are named, legislators will push for a joint meeting to discuss Ga. 316 as well as possible changes to the public-private partnership law.


Lawmakers are considering making the process more competitive and possibly giving the Legislature more of a voice in the decision.   AVOC Note: Yes, “control but no money”.  Won’t do it,


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