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By-pass route still up in air

The State of Georgia has weighed in on the route of McDuffie County's planned western by-pass.

Local leaders met Monday morning with Georgia Department of Transportation officials -- including state DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl -- at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, where they talked about several of the construction projects currently in development in McDuffie County, including the bypass.

The DOT representatives took a look at all four of the different routes the county is considering for the project, which officials hope will relieve traffic congestion near the I-20 interchange.

And it didn't take Mr. Linnenkohl long to voice his opinion.

"I encourage (the county) to work with that," he said of Alternate C, a plan that has the by-pass run near the airport and Augusta Technical College. "I really feel good about that."

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said that Mr. Linnenkohl's recommendation was something he'd take back to the board of commissioners, and he expects it to be an important factor in how commissioners make their final decision.

"We were all leaning towards Alternate C, but right now we've got another level of people saying they prefer it too," he said.

Officials like the plan because it won't disrupt Belle Meade Hunt country, and it would help showcase the newly refurbished airport and Augusta Tech.

Mr. Linnenkohl also said that because the route is shorter than some of the other options, that it would save money.

Epp Wilson, Belle Meade Hunt Master, said he was very pleased that a recommendation was made by DOT in favor of Alternate C.

"If they're determined to do this -- and I'd rather seen none of them -- (Alternate C) is the best option. It would make the most sense," he said.

Mr. Linnenkohl was also the bearer of good news to McDuffie County. He said DOT was willing to earmark around $100,000 for future city and county street resurfacing projects.

Mr. Newton said that he would prefer to undertake a large number of resurfacing projects all at one time. Therefore, he said that the money would be held until several projects could be consolidated into one county-wide resurfacing push.

And that philosophy isn't new. In fact, the county just finished resurfacing around 30 miles of streets with sales tax dollars.

"We want to do a lot of work at once. We've done it before, and we came in way under what DOT estimated it would cost us. A lot of things just came together, and we want to do that again," he said.

Also on the table is a new I-20 interchange on Three Points Road, which will cost an estimated $7.1 million but is still several years away.

State Senators Joey Brush and Ralph Hudgens, along with State Representatives Jimmy Lord and Sistie Hudson attended the meeting. Thomson Mayor Bob Knox and City Administrator Bob Flanders also attended Monday's meeting.



Web posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003











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