Plans for further Ga. 96 widening to be shelved

mstucka@macon.comMarch 11, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Though work is underway to widen most of Ga. 96 through Houston County in three different projects, plans to upgrade a Houston-Twiggs County segment are likely to be shelved next year due to lack of money.

State officials said at a transportation meeting Tuesday that they’ll continue buying the right-of-way and designing the road segment, which would run from Old Hawkinsville Road to the U.S. 23 intersection in Twiggs County. But they don’t know where the money would come from to build the project, which would require five bridge widenings. The road runs through floodplains and over the Ocmulgee River.

The construction of that leg of Ga. 96 is nearly as expensive as the rest of the widenings of Ga. 96 combined.

The widening from Interstate 75 in Peach County to Lake Joy Road is scheduled to cost $14.8 million, while the section from Lake Joy Road to Moody Road is slated to cost $26.3 million. The run from Moody Road to Old Hawkinsville Road is scheduled to cost about $32.9 million to build. In all, the construction total is about $74 million.

In contrast, the widening from Old Hawkinsville Road east into Twiggs County is estimated at $64.5 million in construction, with another $2.1 million in utility relocation costs. The plan calls for widening the road from two lanes to four, split by a median.

The Ga. 96 widening projects now underway are getting help from Houston County’s special purpose local option sales tax.

Some local officials hoped to fund the Houston-Twiggs portion of Ga. 96 with a transportation SPLOST. In July 2012, 56 percent of voters defeated the T-SPLOST in the 11-county Middle Georgia region. Opposition was strongest in Houston County, where nearly 73 percent of voters opposed the ballot question.

Separately, members of the Warner Robins Area Transportation Study were told that construction money is ready, and plans are being revised, for two projects valued at about $1 million total in Perry, which would add pedestrian lighting and upgrade sidewalks in the downtown area and between downtown and the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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