The county has long kept the issue of connectivity and smooth-flowing traffic at center focus, and with the upcoming vote for Transportation Investment Act, officials were prepared to fight for high priority improvements.
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis said many of the projects that constituted the county’s original $400 million request came from the county’s comprehensive transportation plan that was adopted several years ago.
The wish list was pared down to the current approved $193 million allocation, which constitutes seven projects, Planning and Zoning Director Cheri Hobson-Matthews said.
These projects would be funded through the one cent tax known as the TSPLOST, which comes to vote as a regional referendum July 31.
Mathis, who sat on the Atlanta Regional Roundtable — the governing body which established the parameters of the TSPLOST — was pivotal in making sure that Henry County wouldn’t simply be a donor county to the 10 counties drawing from the kitty.
The Atlanta Regional Commission estimates that the 10 counties — Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale, as well as the city of Atlanta — will accumulate $8.5 billion during the 10-year duration of the tax.
“A donor county means that you generate more money within your county than is returned back in projects,” Mathis said. “In other words, you donate some of your revenues to construction projects elsewhere.”
Instead, Mathis said the county will see a 99.5 percent return on the taxes collected in the county.
Matthews said the money collected during the 10 years equates to $7.4 million per year. Additionally, the county will receive 15 percent of funds generated in the form of discretionary funds, which will total $75 million.
Some of the major projects on Henry County’s approved list are a widening of State Route 42/U.S. 23, which will add relief to I-75; an extension and upgrade of State Route 2081 to Lemon Street in McDonough; a widening of Bill Gardner Parkway from State Route 155 to I-75; and new road construction of a three-mile Western Parallel Connector, which will provide relief to I-75 and an alternative route from Hudson Bridge Road to Jonesboro Road.
Mathis said she urges residents to research the TSPLOST and head to the polls July 31.
“One of the greatest things we possess as Americans is the right to go to the polls and make our will known to our elected officials, and I sincerely hope people take time to do that,” she said.