Douglasville City Council has authorized Mayor Harvey Persons to sign a three-party agreement which paves the way for the start of the long-awaited Ga. Hwy. 92 project.
The agreement in the council’s meeting last week includes the city government, Georgia Department of Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. It could allow groundbreaking for the first phase of the project within weeks.
“It is exciting that we are on the threshold of starting a project that Douglas County residents have been talking about for 30 years,” Persons said.
The first phase would include construction of a tunnel to allow motorists to cross under the Norfolk railroad tracks east of the current surface crossing. Traffic typically backs up on both sides of the crossing both when trains pass and because it intersects with busy Bankhead Highway near the tracks.
“With the railroad tracks splitting Douglasville in half, this is not only an ease of transportation issue but a safety issue as well, as we have had several automobile accidents in the area” Persons said.
In addition, the tracks also constitute a community safety issue because they slow medical response times to emergency calls, he said.
The mayor gave special recognition to District 13 U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Jonesboro, for being instrumental in getting federal highway funding for the project, originally scheduled to be part of the 2015-16 state transportation budget, moved up to the 2014-15 budget.
“This will allow dirt to be turned by or before this summer,” the mayor said.
Persons said Scott and other members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation worked in partnership to get the project moved up.
The mayor also praised the work of the Georgia Department of Transportation and project engineer Peter Emmanuel in their efforts.
He said first phase construction would cost $65 to $70 million.