Henry County to consider MOU for Bethlehem Road

Henry County will consider a memorandum of understanding with Georgia DOT for the proposed Bethlehem Road interchange. GDOT prepared the draft MOU following a joint meeting between county staff and the state on January 20.

Moving Henry Forward requested and received the draft MOU via an open records request. The board of commissioners is expected to consider the agreement during their next meeting on Tuesday, February 2.

Bethlehem Road interchange

Funding for the proposed interstate exit was budgeted in SPLOST IV, approved by voters in November 2013. The county budgeted $5.5 million to jumpstart the process for a new exit.

Collections for SPLOST IV started in April 2014. One month later, Henry County awarded a contract for an interchange feasibility study. The feasibility study was the first step towards a future exit. Kimley-Horn completed the feasibility study in 2015, and Georgia DOT approved it later that same year.

The county awarded a contract for the next step, an interchange justification report (IJR), in August 2016. The consultant, Pond & Company, presented the finished report in December 2017. Georgia DOT reviewed the report and suggested revisions before Federal Highway Administration approved it in September 2018.

In May 2019, the board of commissioners considered awarding design services for the project. The board tabled the contract following discussion. Later that year, the board split 3-3 on deciding whether to request federal funds for the project.

Georgia DOT provided $1 million dollars towards the project design shortly after the board’s split decision. GDOT has used the funding to move the project into preliminary engineering. The state’s goal is to overlap the interchange’s construction with the I-75 commercial vehicle lanes.

Now, the state is requesting $5 million dollars from Henry County to advance preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition. The county has $5.26 million remaining towards the project in SPLOST IV accounts.

Proposed MOU

The proposed memorandum of understanding states Henry County will provide Georgia DOT with $5 million dollars. In exchange, the state will select a design-build team for the project. The design-build team will be responsible for constructing the new interstate exit.

In addition, Georgia DOT will facilitate coordination between the design-build team and Henry County. The final project design will be up to the design-build team.

If there are any additional enhancements or features desired by Henry County within the project, then the additional cost will be Henry County’s responsibility. For example, if Henry County wanted decorative fencing on the interchange, then the county would pay the added expense.

Georgia DOT also agrees to take into consideration future state and local government transportation projects within the project area.

Credit for the featured image to Google Maps and the Sign Maker by Brendon Strowe.

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