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3-28-05 GA 316 Toll (& Upgrade?) Dead

The tolls may go away.  The opponents may have won the battle but lost the war.  It will be many years before GA 316 will be upgraded in Oconee County even though Right of Way was bought in the 90’s at Jimmy Daniell Road, the Oconee Connector and the Athens Loop.

AVOC

 

March 27, 2005

 

GA 316 Toll (& Upgrade?) Dead

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

The Gwinnett Daily Post March 27, 2005, headline, Officials: Ga. 316 toll nixed confirms my thinking on the status of GA 316 for the last several months.

 

As one who visited GA DOT headquarters on numerous occasions seeking local assistance and user friendly road use on State Routes in this area, I sense the impetus, what little had been built, for upgrading has evaporated.

 

It makes sense to start working on the most pressing Interchanges first but most of them are in Gwinnett County.  Barrow County also has several State Route Intersections on GA 316.  The Oconee end (UGA end) will not have the support to be able to compete with the Gwinnett intersections.

 

Representative Bob Smith of Oconee County has been a vigorous supporter of an upgrade in past years.  However, in the last year or so, he seems to have devoted his efforts to opposition to tolls.  My experience in such matters would indicate that this has not endeared him to GA DOT folks and other boosters of the road.   Rep. Smith has also proposed “Special Tax Districts” along GA 316 and that idea will be about as popular as were the tolls.

 

The tolls may go away.  The opponents may have won the battle but lost the war.  It will be many years before GA 316 will be upgraded in Oconee County even though Right of Way was bought in the 90’s at Jimmy Daniell Road, Oconee Connector and the Athens Loop.

 

We will see more emphasis on the US 129 corridor toward I-85 and Gainesville.   Residential development will cause even more problems on the Gwinnett end of GA 316.  As it has for decades, the Athens area will have missed out once again on an Interstate type highway and on the opportunities offered by and envisioned by many for the University Parkway Corridor.


SEE:

 

12-28-04 GA 316 Upgrade Plans & Tolls Debate Continues

12-31-04 Toll Roads May Be Wave of the Future

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

2-23-05 GA 316 Headlines on Tolls Are Incomplete Story

 3-22-05 Time & University Parkway (GA 316) Vision Slipping Away?

 3-26-05 City Annexation of Growing Areas in Rural Counties

8-14-04 Joint Vision Statement for University Parkway 2-4-2000


The Gwinnett Daily Post

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/GDP-Templates/news1.shtml

 

March 27, 2005

 

Officials: Ga. 316 toll nixed

By Camie Young

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Ga. Highway 316 toll proposal is dead, a couple of key officials said Friday.
Earlier this month, the State Transportation Board put off a decision to investigate a toll proposal for the 39-mile route from Lawrenceville to Athens.


Board member Garland Pinholster said the “indefinite tabling” of that decision in effect killed the controversial plan, which would have cost commuters up to 12 cents a mile, or $.70 to travel the length of the road.


“It’s dead as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I believe we are not going to toll people for pavement that already exists.”


On Friday, Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, also called the proposal dead.
Both he and Pinholster said that instead of allowing a private company to pay for upgrades and then receive a toll to make up for the costs, the improvements will come one intersection at a time. That’s the process that has occurred for Ga. 316 in the past, with officials working for years for the money to improve the intersections of Collins Hill Road and Ga. Highway 20 in Gwinnett.


“It might take 20 years before the entire package is done, but it will be done without a toll,” Heard said.
The proposal was the first to come after the Legislature voted to allow private companies to submit proposals to the Department of Transportation for new ways to fund road upgrades.


After the outcry over Ga. 316, though, legislators decided to look at that law again. This year, they are considering a bill that would allow the DOT to specify what kind of project it is looking for.


Pinholster said laying out what is acceptable in the beginning would give the DOT more protection against this kind of controversy.   Instead of using a toll to upgrade existing roads, Pinholster suggested allowing a company to build a new lane and charge drivers who use it.


In fact, it was the Parkway Group — a private consortium of road builders that submitted the proposal — that requested the decision be put off until the General Assembly explored the new rules.


While Bill Berry, a leader in the Parkway Group, wasn’t available for comment, a spokeswoman for the group said she does not consider the proposal dead………


“We have asked DOT to defer voting ... pending legislative changes. We look forward to discussing consideration in coming months. In the meantime, we are preparing to share with the public our proposal to upgrade (Ga.) 316 in its entirety, as the amended law will allow,” Berry said. “We are confident that more people will agree this process should continue as the best and most timely means to make (Ga.) 316 more safe, more efficient and less congested.” 


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