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Three Points Road Interchange at I-20 still 'up in the air'

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton believes it would be a gigantic accomplishment if someone could resolve problems between the commission panel and officials with the U.S. Federal Highway Department involving the proposed Three Points Road Interchange at Interstate 20.

"It's all still up in the air right now," Mr. Newton said. "But I'm hopeful we can get this thing resolved soon."

During a recent commission meeting, Mr. Newton said he plans to discuss the issue once again with Georgia U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

"I'm going to take the political avenue one more time in an attempt to get this thing resolved," Mr. Newton said. "If that doesn't work, I guess we'll have to start all over with the right-of-way acquisitions like the federal highway officials are requesting that we do. It just doesn't make any sense to have to start all over again."

The issues of the right-of-way acquisition first must be addressed and meet with the satisfaction of officials with the Georgia Department of Transportation, as well as the U.S. Federal Highway Department.

In a letter, dated April 24 to Mr. Newton, Anthony Collins, district engineer with the GDOT in Atlanta, said that in order to move forward with the project that McDuffie County would be required to furnish funding for the acquisition of rights-of-way equal to the latest cost estimate of $413,000.

Commissioner Bob Farr said it appeared to him that commissioners didn't really have a choice. Mr. Newton agreed, saying, "We really don't have a lot of choice."

"In my opinion, it's totally unnecessary," Mr. Newton said. "We followed the Uniform Act and we shouldn't have to be doing this all over again when it's already been done."

Officials with the federal highway department contend that the county commissioners allowed property owners to sign over deeds for the right-of-way property before receiving checks.

"Just because the law says you have to have the check in their hands before they sign the deed is idiocy to me to hold up the project for that reason," Mr. Newton said.

He is hopeful that property owners who agreed to the right-of-way acquisition the first time around will be agreeable again.

"Even if they do, we are still going to have $50,000 to $60,000 in consultant fees to pay," he pointed out.

Commissioners had planned to use the $413,000 to complete the resurfacing roads project.

Web posted on Thursday, May 22, 2008

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