The state of Georgia is taking a regional approach to its transportation planning.
The groundwork is being laid now, as Newton County and the other local governments represented in the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission submit projects to be considered for funding through a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. The T-SPLOST will be put to a vote in a referendum in July 2012.
This approach to transportation funding and planning was part of legislation passed last year designed to reform and improve the way road projects are funded and approved in the state.
We applaud the effort and are cautiously optimistic. Roads were paved and projects previously seemed to be planned piecemeal, dependent upon whom you knew under the Gold Dome.
The T-SPLOST is dependent upon local governments cooperating and coordinating efforts. Money is tight and it's going to take a concerted effort to pare the list down into projects that will appeal to voters of diverse backgrounds and needs. Our representatives in the process are County Commission Chair Kathy Morgan and Covington Mayor Kim Carter.
They have some hard choices ahead, as the list of submitted projects, which includes $260 million in Newton County work, will likely have to be cut in half.