In today’s Henry Minutes, I cover the upcoming closure of state route 81 at the South River, ARC approves federal transportation funding and the BOC is considering changes to public comment. Henry Minutes is a collection of news from around Henry County.
South River Bridge
The state route 81 bridge over the South River will close on Monday, March 22, for replacement. Georgia DOT shared the closure date on social media.
The closure will last through December 2021. The offsite detour follows state routes 20 and 212, but state route 36 is also an option over the river.
The project replaces the existing 1948 bridge. When complete, the new bridge will feature a deck width of 43.25’ with an eight foot shoulder on each side. By comparison, the current bridge is 27’ wide.
Federal Transportation Funds
On Wednesday, March 10, the Atlanta Regional Commission board approved an amendment to the transportation improvement program (TIP). The TIP is a six-year planning document that includes all transportation projects scheduled to receive federal funds. Henry County is part of the metro Atlanta TIP.
The amendment includes $14 million dollars in new funding for Henry County. Projects include the following:
- $7 million for construction to widen Rock Quarry Road in FY 2023, and
- $7 million for construction to widen state route 81 in FY 2025.
The federal funds represent partial funding on the projects. Other funding sources, such as state or local dollars, are required before building either project.
On Tuesday, March 16, the board of commissioners will consider changes to public comment. Presently, speakers may address the board for up to five minutes on any county-related topic or concern. The speaker must sign-in before the start of the meeting, but during COVID-19, the board has required speakers to email the county clerk one day before the meeting.
The proposed changes include the following:
- Reduce the time per speaker from five minutes to three minutes,
- Limit public comment to topics appearing on the meeting agenda or the most recent previous meeting agenda, and
- require the speaker to sign-up with the county clerk before 12 pm the day before the meeting.
The proposed changes also remove two code sections that 1) allows public comments on a specific agenda item before the item is considered, and 2) allows the board to permit public comment on any agenda item. Public comments are made at the end of the meeting after all agenda items have been discussed.
The board last considered revisions to public comment in October 2019, but decided against making any changes.
Featured image shows state route 81 bridge over South River. Credit to Georgia DOT.
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