A state transportation study could shift thousands of automobiles to new routes across Middle Georgia.
The Connect Central Georgia study, which is eyeing a corridor from Augusta to Macon and Columbus, will next determine whether major road projects like an expanded Macon-LaGrange highway or a new connector between Interstate 75 and Interstate 16 should be endorsed.
Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, who was at a meeting Monday discussing 17 proposed road improvements, said hes glad to see the study is considering proposals to improve both transportation and economic development.
Im pleased that the priorities we think need to be emphasized are included, said Reichert, who has championed a Sardis Church Road to Sgoda Road extension over the Ocmulgee River. Reichert called that road the key to our success.
Transportation planners warned Monday that the busiest part of that road -- bridging the Ocmulgee River north of Robins Air Force Base -- would be the part with the most environmental problems, including the river, swamps, historical sites and conservation land.
As many as 10,500 automobiles per day could use southern parts of the connector, while a northern portion tying Interstate 16 to the Fall Line Freeway connector could have just 1,000 cars, said Garth Lynch of HNTB, who is leading the Connect Central Georgia study for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Lynch said one of the longest proposed improvements, along some 73 miles of Ga. 74 between Macon and LaGrange, could bring as many as 15,600 vehicles per day. Some of those likely would be trucks running freight between Savannahs port and Kia and Hyundai car plants.
The Connect Central Georgia study has highlighted 17 improved connections as possibilities. Costs and benefits will be analyzed in the next three months before particular projects are recommended, Lynch said.
We want to get as much benefit for the costs, Lynch said.
Lynch said the report will identify potential funding sources. Some of the projects already were planned for money from regional transportation sales taxes, known as T-SPLOSTs; two of the four regions in the study area passed a T-SPLOST this year.
An early Georgia Department of Transportation estimate suggested the Sardis Church-Sgoda Road extension would cost about $178 million.
Lynch said even projects that dont get a favorable cost-benefit analysis could still benefit, such as by having local road planners wary of putting intersections every 300 feet, which would further slow traffic.
Other proposed connectors include improvements on Ga. 36, to bring more traffic from Thomaston to Barnesville to Interstate 75; upgrades on Ga. 44 from Gray toward Eatonton; improvements on Ga. 49 to improve a Macon-Milledgeville connection expected to get much traffic; and improvements along Ga. 96 between Fort Valley and Interstate 75.
Reichert said he didnt know where funding for the Sardis Church Road-Sgoda Road connector would come from, but he said he needs to continue advocating for it to become a reality.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.