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Gov. Kemp’s first act in charge of SRTA: Provide funding to fix washed out road

David Pendered
Pickens County washout

By David Pendered

At $1.3 million, the grant isn’t big in the context of state highway funding. But Gov. Brian Kemp won praise from local residents for overseeing approval of funding to help restore a road washed out in February by a rockslide in Pickens County – just north of metro Atlanta.

Pickens County washout

Pickens County expects to reopen Jones Mountain Road in about two months with repair work funded mainly by the state. The road washed out after a rock slide triggered by heavy rains in February. Credit: knowpickens.com

The washout of Jones Mountain Road has left commuters with few options in a region between Jasper and Elijay. The concerns are a stark reminder of the vastly different type of road conditions just north of the road systems of metro Atlanta.

Here are a few remarks posted on the county’s Facebook page shortly after Pickens County closed the road:

  • Wendy D Lowe: “This will be a mess! Trout Farm is already a mess where people just throw out their trash on my parents property. I agree with Geoff go another way unless you live in the area.”
  • Geoff Chalk: “Additionally 2 miles of trout farm right at price is single lane with deep gullies on both sides. Please don’t take the detour unless you live in the area, it cannot handle regular Jones mountain traffic.”
  • John Swisher: “2 miles of Price Creek rd is gravel and one lane, use caution and slow down, there are places that are soft (muddy).”

Posters were equally quick to commend Kemp and other state officials for providing money to repair the project at the meeting Monday:

  • Beverly Carter: “Praise the Lord! I’m so glad that they’re getting started on this, I’ve been praying they would. Thank you.”
  • Karen Cochran Michalek: “Thank you Governor Kemp and Pickens Co.”

The grant was provided through the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The grant covers 68.5 percent of the project cost, according to Chris Tomlinson, SRTA’s executive director. Additional sources of funding include $500,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation and $100,000 from Pickens County, Tomlinson said. The work is to be complete in about two months.

The Legislature created the bank in 2008. Since that time, it has provided comparatively small sums of money that enabled some major projects to move forward in metro Atlanta.

Johns Mountain Road, washout

The washout of a section of Jones Mountain Road in Pickens County has forced commuters to take an alternative that locals say is no easy to traverse. credit: facebook.com/pickenscountyga

Here are a few examples:

  • The Assembly Community Improvement District received $2 million to help with the $17 million roadway system for the former GM plant in Doraville;
  • The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, associated with Central Atlanta Progress, received $1 million to help with the $1.6 million project to convert Baker Street into a two-way street;
  • The Buckhead CID received $600,000 toward the $1.9 million cost of designs for the proposed park to be built above Ga. 400.

Now $1.3 million is to be provided to help repair Jones Mountain Road, in Pickens County.

The State Road and Tollway Authority approved the loan Monday in one of two major orders of business. The other was to officially install Kemp as chairman of the authority, a position that’s filled by the sitting governor.

The entire meeting lasted about six minutes. Kemp took a few minutes before the meeting to welcome each member of the small audience gathered in one of the offices assigned to the governor on the first floor of the Capitol. After the meeting, Kemp took a few more minutes to share a few words with those who lingered.

 

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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