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David Pendered

New bus service in Columbus, new bridges in SE Ga. among upgrades voters funded by approving sales tax

By David Pendered

Three regions in Georgia are getting ready to start building roads and bridges, and improving public transit, because voters approved a proposed 1 percent sales tax that was on the ballot Tuesday.

U.S. 1 bridge over Altamaha River

This bridge over the Altamaha River on U.S. 1, near Plant Hatch in Baxley, is slated to be replaced. Credit: vanishingsouthgeorgia.com

Consequently, $1.8 billion worth of projects are to be completed over the next decade in the special tax districts surrounding Augusta, Columbus and Dublin. The amount of approved construction is 1/10th of the $18 billion that had been proposed in all 12 of the special tax districts.

One of two transit projects approved by voters is to provide intercity bus service between Downtown Columbus and three sites in the Columbus/Muscogee area. The second is to help pay for maintaining and operating Augusta Public Transit.

Here’s a snapshot of the three districts, according to information culled from the Secretary of State’s Elections Division and the Georgia Department of Transportation. The vote counts are not unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State:

Central Savannah River Area

  • $841 million in planned construction;
  • The tax was approved by 53.68 percent of the 91,916 ballots cast;
  • The tallies were 49,336 in favor; 42,580 opposed;
  • Counties: Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington, and Wilkes.
  • Projects include replacing a bridge at I-20 and Ga. 221; bypasses at Sparta and Louisville; and numerous bridge replacements.
  • The Augusta Public Transit system is to receive $7.5 million to help pay for operations and maintenance. The system travels 2,313 miles a day and serves more than 3,000 customers a day.

River Valley

  • $594 million in planned construction;
  • The tax was approved by 54.37 percent of the 53,029 ballots cast;
  • The tallies were 28,831 in favor; 24,198 opposed;
  • Counties: Crisp, Dooly, Harris, Macon, Muscogee, Randolph, Sumter, Talbot, and Taylor.
  • Projects include building the Columbia River Walk; U.S. 27 at Custer Road, near Fort Benning; and several passing lanes and traffic lights;
  • Details of the intercity bus service call for construction of three express bus park-and ride location using existing sites; each route will have a wheelchair accessible bus; service hours are Monday through Saturday from 4:20 a.m. to either 7:20 p.m. or 11:20 p.m.

Heart of Georgia Altamaha

  • $399 million in planned construction;
  • The tax was approved by 51.69 percent of the 55,140 ballots cast;
  • The tallies were 28,502 in favor; 26,638 opposed;
  • Counties: Appling, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Laurens, Tattnall, Toombs, and Wayne
  • Projects include replacing a total of three bridges and improving one bridge over the Altamaha, Canoochee, and Oconee rivers; a railroad overpass on Ga. 169; the Eastman Bypass; and several road widenings on state routes.
  • Details of one bridge project call for replacing a structure on U.S. 1 near Plant Hatch, near Baxley, that crosses the Altamaha River; the $24.8 million project calls for “replacing three functionally and structurally deficient two-lane bridges.”
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.



  1. Payday loan in Virginia February 12, 2013 3:18 pm

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  2. writes_of_weigh February 12, 2013 5:20 pm

    How ironic that in neighboring North Carolina, a paragon(some believe) of transit planning and development,  that a proposal has evolved from two state legislators( one Democrat, one Republican) to fund the resurrection of a waylaid/abandoned rail route which would ultimately link the NC port of Wilmington to the Research Triangle/Global Logistics park areas. A presumed new clarity of vision on the part of some tarheel legislators about how the world may or may not function well in the post-Panamax shipping upheaval might be instructive to some in the Peach State in terms of rail infrastructure revivals(like an Atlanta bypass via Bremen-Carrollton-Senioa-Griffin or perhaps in North East Georgia a Lula-Athens-Madison-Gordon bypass of Atlanta or better yet a Toccoa-Lavonia-Elberton-Athens-Watkinsville-Machen-Macon bypass of Atlanta. Can do in the Peach State?Report

    1. The Last Democrat in Georgia February 13, 2013 5:44 pm

       Investing in freight rail bypasses to the east and west of Metro Atlanta is an infinitely much better idea than the much more invasive and destructive (but currently dormant) Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc freeway loop/bypass idea that has repeatedly been floated (and repeatedly rejected) over the years.
      Investing in rail as a way to bypass growing amounts of freight shipments around already heavily-congested Metro Atlanta roads and rails is also a good idea because much of the rail right-of-way and track that would be required to do so is already in place.Report


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