Possible SPLOST V District III projects

Master Plan for North Ola Park (Staff Photo)

This is a continuation of the SPLOST V committee meeting at Ola Elementary. The previous article looked at widening state route 81 and intersection improvements along East Lake Road.

Continuing to expand North Ola Park will be included within SPLOST V. Two new baseball fields are under construction after the current program purchased land behind Ola Elementary. The next steps include purchasing land south of Ola Elementary for future use and building two additional baseball fields to compliment the current construction site.

The additional land could be used for multipurpose football fields and a recreation center over the next ten to fifteen years. Building the facilities will not be included within SPLOST V. The land would also allow for a second entrance into the park to relieve the narrow driveway currently in use.

A second capital project mentioned at the committee meeting was expanding the Heritage Senior Center in McDonough. Adding workout equipment will be considered taking inspiration from similar facilities at the new Bear Creek Senior Center opened in 2017. Requests for additional senior services was one of the top items heard from citizens during this year’s comprehensive plan update.

Previously mentioned at the district I meeting was to improve SR 81 at Ola Road. The plan is to relocate S Ola Road to the existing traffic signal with N Ola Road. This will not only provide relief to traffic flow, but also eliminate a dangerous intersection with a long history for collisions.

Racetrack Road at Iris Lake Road is a much needed intersection improvement because of delays and accidents. The project would be jointly funded by commission districts I and III with possible contributions by the city of McDonough. Rebuilding tight curves along Racetrack would also be included to improve sight distances from Iris Lake to Travis Drive.

The Airline Road extension between Rodgers Road and SR 81 was previously included within SPLOST III, but the project was put on hold when the economic recession hit and collections fell. The committee will consider funding preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition to make progress on the project. The plan is to build Airline Road from its dead end to the intersection with Old Jackson Road completing a north-south corridor through the county.

Willow Lane is increasing in popularity as an alternate to I-75. The intersection with Bridges Road needs improved to keep traffic moving and reduce delays. In addition to the intersection, the committee will also explore rebuilding Bridges Road between Willow and Mt. Carmel Road. Historically the road provided connectivity but was closed when a bridge washed out in the mid-2000’s.

Reconstructing the roadway will allow local drivers to use the newly rebuilt Mount Carmel Road overpass over I-75 to bypass SR 20 and exit 218. This would make progress on a transportation goal to provide alternate routes for residents to traverse over I-75, instead of having to travel through the exits.

Future McDonough Parkway between SR 42 and SR 155 (Henry County photo)

Finishing the McDonough Parkway will be included within SPLOST V. The current program has funded preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition for a new segment between SR 42 and SR 155 north of the square. SPLOST V funding will include construction for the north segment and the final touches on the southwest segment. The Board of Commissioners approved last month a $5.2 million dollar contract to start construction and remove old landfill material between SR 20 / 81 and Henry Parkway.

Once these projects are constructed, the bypass will be complete giving local drivers and freight traffic new options to avoid the McDonough square. It is my hope to eventually receive a state route bypass designation along the route to help with driver awareness and mapping software.

Dirt road paving Turner Church Road was completed earlier this year providing connectivity from SR 155 to the Ola community. The project was selected in SPLOST IV because it’s part of the McDonough Parkway and improving the intersection at highway 20 will be considered within SPLOST V to address safety concerns.

Not all projects mentioned here will be selected. There will not be enough available funding to complete every project and perhaps only half of the items mentioned will be included on the final list. Bridge replacements and road resurfacing are two categories not mentioned here that also receive most of their funding through the SPLOST program.

The next SPLOST committee meeting will take place on September 20 at 6:30 pm at the J.P. Moseley Recreation Center. The meeting will include a presentation from deputy county manager Brad Johnson on countywide projects and county facilities. All residents are invited to the meeting to hear the countywide improvements that will be considered. Dates and locations for all other meetings may be found on the SPLOST V page.

The proposed extension of the Henry County SPLOST program will be decided by voters in November 2019. If approved, the SPLOST V program will continue the existing tax collections for an additional six years through March 31, 2025.

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Clayton Carte is the founder and owner of Moving Henry Forward Community News. The website provides local news coverage in Henry County, Georgia.