Bibb County commissioners are throwing their support behind a roundabout planned for Thomaston Road at Lamar and Johnson roads.
The local support is critical, especially after a lack of support threatened to kill off the project, Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer David Millen said Tuesday. County commissioners initially opposed the project because of a state demand that the county pay $500 a month for the project’s lighting.
Commissioners on Tuesday were more worried about whether the state could tie Lower Thomaston Road, which leads to two of Lake Tobesofkee’s parks and would come close to the roundabout, into the project.
Federal money would cover the $1.8 million state project, which could be similar to a smaller roundabout outside Culloden. Construction could begin late next year, though that timeline is likely to be delayed.
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The county has been resistant to other roundabout proposals for Forest Hill Road.
County Engineer Ken Sheets told commissioners that a four-way stop at the Thomaston Road intersection could cure problems now but was unlikely to work more than a decade. There’s also no guarantee any Federal Highway Administration or other money would be available later if the county passes on the federal funding.
County Commissioner Joe Allen, who leads the county’s engineering committee, said the county is trying to make sure Lower Thomaston Road is tied in, the roundabout is large enough to work well with trucks and that the state picks up the tab for the lights.
Commissioner Elmo Richardson, an engineer, focused on the diameter of the roundabout near Culloden, which he said is too small. Millen said officials planned the Thomaston Road roundabout to be large.
“That one’s larger than the one in Culloden. We learned our lesson,” Millen said.
Federal rules require that roundabouts be considered for some intersections.
“There’s some 100 more coming out of the state sitting on the drawing board,” Millen said.
Bibb County Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson, who is helping shepherd a master planning study for the county-owned Lake Tobesofkee, said Lower Thomaston Road could be critical, because some events could draw 10,000 people a day.
Consultants working on the master plan will hear public comments beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the commissioners’ meeting room on the fourth floor of the courthouse.
Also Tuesday, county commissioners:
— voted to begin negotiations to buy land for a new fire station in north Bibb County.
— debated ways to work with residents and the Macon Water Authority to bring fire hydrants to five neighborhoods that have private water supplies.
— voted to seek a $5,000 grant for a video studio to help county public relations efforts, as well as a brownfields grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
— tentatively scheduled the next meeting for Thursday, Oct. 7, because commissioners will be at an Association County Commissioners of Georgia meeting on their usual Tuesday meeting day.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.