Officially known as the Transportation Investment Act, but often referred to as TSPLOST, the initiative, if it passes, would add a 10-year one-cent sales tax on most items. The tax would be used to fund pre-approved transportation improvement projects.
Approval of the act would be region-specific, rather than statewide or county-specific. Walker County belongs to the northwest Georgia region, which is made up of 14 counties: Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk and Whitfield. A majority vote throughout these counties would still pass the act for the region, although individual counties may vote against it.
Ten projects have already been approved for Walker County, including six bridges, various intersection and road improvements, the installation of sidewalks on Ga. 341 from Hunter Drive to Glass Mill Road and, bearing the largest price tag, the creation of a connector via Wilson Road between the Tennessee state line and Ga. 2. The theoretical project has been a hoped-for dream of Walker County officials for many years and is already nicknamed the Central Avenue Interchange.
These 10 Walker County projects (and their estimated costs) have been pre-approved for construction with funds from the Transportation Investment Act, should the July 31 referendum pass.
Crow Gap Row bridge: $1,824,449
Euclid Road bridge: $2,624,208
Hog Jowl Road bridge: $1,667,733
Intersection improvements – Five Points Road and Osburn School Road: $915,056
Johnson Road improvements – from Mission Ridge Road to Gravitt Road: $1,463,189
Old Lee School Road bridge near Trion Highway: $1,722,401
Sidewalks on Ga. 341 from Hunter Drive to Glass Mill Road: $153,808
Vulcan Road bridge near Vulcan Drive: $1,726,046
Wilson Road connector – Tennessee state line to Ga. 2: $20,000,000
The estimated cost of the 10 Walker County projects totals more than $34 million; it is anticipated that the Transportation Investment Act would provide the funds in full.
Over the 10-year period of the tax, Walker County sales would generate a projected $1,487,935,178 and create an estimated 40,174 jobs, mostly in construction work.
As outlined in the Transportation Investment Act, 75 percent of the funds generated in each county would go toward the pre-approved projects, while the remaining 25 percent would be re-distributed to the city and county governments based on a ratio of population to total road mileage. The re-distributed funds would then be available for local governments to use on various other transportation projects at their discretion.
Under this system, for the year 2013, the first year the TIA would be in effect, unincorporated Walker County would receive an estimated $1,975,602, Chickamauga would receive $79,123, LaFayette $176,640, Lookout Mountain $43,672 and Rossville $90,904. It is hoped that the kickback funds in subsequent years would mirror these figures.
At the end of the 10-year period, the tax would end, and could only be renewed with another vote. Should the Transportation Investment Act fail to pass on July 31, none of the pre-approved projects will automatically move forward.
Instead, local governments will at least have a list of priorities on which they can base their future road development projects, should the money ever become available elsewhere.
The July 31 referendum will be asked as a “yes” or “no” question and will be presented as follows: “Shall Walker County’s transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a one percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years.”
For more information on the Transportation Investment Act, contact the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission or visit nwgrc.org.