This week saw a melding of the minds between county, city and Georgia Department of Transportation officials to see if there is a way to fix some of the major traffic frustrations, at least in the short term. At the traffic summit, county and city officials put forward some of the issues they would like to see addressed with funding from the next Special Local Option Sales Tax, if passed. It will be on the ballot in November.
Some issues have already been addressed and just haven’t yet come to fruition, like the truck bypass around Monroe, which has already been funded with construction set to begin in 2020.
“That is not on the list,” said Walton County Commission Chairman Kevin Little. “We have been working since January trying to find quick fixes for some of the traffic problems we have all around the county.”
Little said the county has grown from 36,000 back in 1990 and, except for the four landing of Highway 78, most of the roads are still the same ones now being driven on by a population that is looking to soon be over 100,000.
“Drivers and citizens are beginning to get frustrated,” Little said. “We want to find some smaller, more economical fixes that we can implement faster that will give huge improvements to citizens, but cost much less. We would like to partner with the DOT and execellerate it over the next five years. “
Little said the county was asking for the Georgia DOT to match with $1 for each $2 contributed by Walton County taxpayers through the SPLOST, if passed in November. The total cost for all the projects identified by city and county officials is $25,497,700 with the Georgia DOT asked to kick-in $8,397,700 against the county and cities’ joint $17,100,000. Jimmy Parker, senior vice president of Precision Planning, hosted the meeting and presented documents and a map itemizing the project that had been identified by each jurisdiction. He said some of them are relatively inexpensive, requiring little more than paint, while others – like the State Route 81 Corridor intersection improvements would cost about $3,500,000. One of the projects planned for Monroe includes a Michael Etchison Connector road that would take traffic off SR 138 before it hits the intersection with W. Spring Street, an area of major frustration at this time.
The plans include three roundabouts, one in the City of Loganville at Highay 81 and Twin Lakes Road, one in the City of Social Circle at SR 11 and Social Circle Parkway north and one in the city of Walnut Grove at the intersection of SR 81 and Park Street.
“Roundabouts have been very helpful in moving traffic and in cutting down on medical calls. Accidents tend to be more just fender benders,” Parker said. “We had about three public meetings in Social Circle prior to the roundabout and everybody hated it. Now everybody loves it.”
Officials agree that development on a large scale is on the way and it is important to address problems already being experienced as soon as possible in the short term as economically as possible – and then to begin looking ahead at ways to prepare for the influx expected as Walton County continues to grow at what is expected to be an excellerated rate.
A list of each of the project submitted and a corresponding map follows.