“We’ve got transfer trucks just eating McFarland Avenue up,” Rossville mayor Teddy Harris said. “Trucks are not stopping locally. They are just zooming through.”
A $500,000 grant from the American Recover and Reinvestment Act repaved more than 1.6 miles of McFarland Avenue in 2010.
Harris does not believe voters will opt for the transportation tax — commonly referred to as TSPLOST for transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax — and fears it will be a long time before McFarland would be repaved.
“We’re not anti-business. We’re not anti-trucks. We are just tying to preserve McFarland Avenue,” Harris said.
He maintains that McFarland Avenue would not be repaved for at least 10-15 years if the TSPLOST measure fails.
Local businesses that operate trucks expressed concern. “This will not affect them whatsoever,” Harris said.
“We are not interested in writing tickets. We are mainly interested in preserving the road,” he said.
The new citation will have a second reading by the city council in June.
If the measure passes during the June 11 council meeting, signs will eventually be installed, followed by a “moratorium period” of 60-90 days before the fine takes effect.
The only way to avoid or end the truck ban would be if McFarland were declared a state road, according to Harris. He believes that with the significant traffic flow it should have been declared a state road several years ago.
“We have got to make it last because it’s not a state road. It is a city road. City residents have to bear the cost of keeping that road up,” Harris said. “The last time we got McFarland paved, it took (several) years to get the money, and finally it was (President) Obama’s stimulus money that got it paved.”
Passage of the TSPLOST tax would benefit Rossville roads but cost the city in lost revenue, since motorist traffic would diminish Rossville traffic as the Wilson Road Connector could link U.S. 27 to I-24.
The city of Rossville would receive a projected $90,000 per year from the tax, four times what it currently gets, according to Harris.
The area has 45,000 motorists per day, according to Harris. He suspects the bypass would cut the traffic in half, dramatically affecting small local businesses.
“If TSPLOST passes, (Rossville) is in trouble,” Harris said. “Everybody knows that Rossville is struggling. We have struggled ever since the nineties.”