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Upcoming transportation referendum is talk of summit
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SOUTH FORSYTH - The proposed $200 million transportation bond referendum that voters will decide on Nov. 4 was the main topic of the 2014 Transportation Summit.

The summit, organized by the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, was held Wednesday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center. It featured three panelists who talked about the various projects that would be possible, including the widening of Ga. 400, if voters approve the measure.

Of the $200 million, $81 million would be used for projects for which the Georgia Department of Transportation has allocated $93 million of leveraged funding. The remaining $119 million was proposed for county projects.

State Rep. Mark Hamilton led the presentation and panel, explaining the average person in Georgia invests about $85 a year in roads and bridges. With the approval of the bond, the estimated impact on a tax bill for a home valued at $250,000 is, on average, $121 per year for 20 years.

"Without additional funding, we're going to be sitting in more gridlock on 400, and many of those people will be sitting in more potholes," said Hamilton, a Republican from Cumming.

If the referendum passes, Ga. 400 would be widened from McFarland Parkway to Bald Ridge Marina Road, using $53 million of the bond funding. The state would contribute another $10 million.

If the proposal is approved, Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam said, work could start at the end of next year.
"If we don't invest to promote commercial activity, there's going to be a push for more residential pockets," Tam said. "It really is the time for us to invest because right now we have state participation."

Four other projects for which the county and state would be partners include widening of Hwy. 371 from Hwy. 9 to Kelly Mill Road; widening of Hwy. 369 between Hwys. 9 and 306; and intersection improvements at Hwy. 306 and McGinnis Ferry Road at 400.

Other efforts, which would be funded solely through county bond funds, are an extension of Ronald Reagan Boulevard from Majors Road to McFarland Parkway, and widening projects on McGinnis Ferry, Old Atlanta, Pilgrim Mill and Union Hill roads.

Also included is $10 million for "traffic safety improvements." Under that category are "potential intersection improvements" for several spots on Hwy. 369, 306, 9, 53 and 141 and Ga. 400.

Funding in that category could also be used for improvements such as signals, guardrails, sidewalks and resurfacing.

Early and advance voting for the Nov. 4 election runs through Oct. 31, including a Saturday, Oct. 25.