County to match funds for roadwork

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted May 2 to commit up to $5.7 million in matching funds for various transportation projects should federal funds be granted through a program announced by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

A plan put together by county staff consists of four projects:

Highway 81 widening from the McDonough one-way pairs to Bethany Road (right-of-way acquisition $7.5 million, county match $1.5 million).

Rock Quarry Road widening from Eagle’s Landing Parkway to North Henry Boulevard (right-of-way acquisition $7 million, county match $1.4 million).

East Atlanta Road-Rock Quarry Road connector widening, East Atlanta Road from Fairview road to Valley Hill Road, and Patrick Henry Parkway from Country Club Drive to Jodeco Road (preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition $9.2 million, county match $1.84 million).

Jodeco Road widening from Chambers Road to Hudson Bridge Road (preliminary engineering and right-of-way $4.7 million, county match $940,000).

The total commitment of $5,722,000 in matching funds includes $2.9 million in SPLOST funds, which is the total for the Highway 81 and Rock Quarry Road projects. The remaining $2,822,000 will need to be transferred to DOT Infrastructure Fund, according to county staff.

Another potential project, a freight cluster plan study, was removed from the application by the commissioners before the vote.

Chief planner Stacey Jordan-Rudeseal presented the plan to the board, during which time Commissioner Bruce Holmes made the first reference to striking the freight cluster plan study, saying that from previous discussions “no one is interested in semi-truck parking up and down I-75. At this point I think we have plenty of warehouses and plenty of truck parking.”

Rudeseal pointed out that the truck parking study to which Holmes referred was a totally separate issue, but the freight cluster plan study could be removed if the board so desired.

When Commissioner Dee Clemmons asked why such areas as Highway 155 and the Western Connector between Hudson Bridge Road and Jodeco Road were not mentioned here, Rudeseal said those projects were already being addressed elsewhere and this particular attempt to secure federal funds would require a federal process. The projects Clemmons mentioned would “have to start from zero” if included here, he said.

County manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews said if the board chose to remove the freight cluster plan study, the truck issues would still have to be addressed eventually. “We can’t build roads and assume the trucks are going to go away.”

Commissioner Blake Prince asked how much money Stockbridge was contributing to the Rock Quarry Road widening between Highway 42 and Piedmont Henry Hospital, and he was told the answer is zero.

“The Rock Quarry Road widening should be considered as a public safety issue because the northern end of the county is connected to the hospital by a two-lane road,” said Prince.

Commissioner Gary Barham made a motion to table the matter, after which time Matthews said the ARC deadline could not be met unless a special called meeting was convened. Barham’s motion failed by a 4-2 vote.

Holmes moved to approve the application with the four projects and stipulate that the county’s funds would be available as of July 1, 2018. The motion passed 5-1 with Barham voting in opposition.