SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce hopes local residents will approve a new transportation tax that will help create new routes and make big improvements to many others when they vote between now and Nov. 3..
Chamber CEO Andy Cripps said it’s important to note that the one-percent Transportation Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) would affect only Effingham County transportation projects. None of the money raised would go to other areas or for other needs.
County Manager Tim Callanan said Effingham County’s population is expected to increase during the next decade and its roads are already overrun with traffic or in poor condition. He estimated that the TSPLOST, if approved, would generate $45 million over five years.
Chamber Board Chairman Ryan Thompson said TSPLOST would furnish a way to finalize funding for the Effingham Parkway, a parallel alternative to Ga. Hwy 21 that will link Effingham and Chatham counties. Nearly half of Effingham County’s workforce (20,000) leaves the county for work each day.
Callanan said Effingham Parkway construction is set to begin in July 2021 and a majority of its funding for it (by the state) is already in place. Effingham County’s obligation is $5 million and, if TSPLOST is approved, it will help to alleviate much of the congestion now seen on Hwy 21 between Effingham County and Savannah.
Another project set to come out of TSPLOST funds include enhancing the traffic flow on Goshen Road to Hodgeville Road by adding a third lane or a turn lane. Others improvements in unincorporated areas include Kolic Helmey Road/Hodgeville Road and Old River Road/U.S. 80, ash road resurfacing and planning for an east-west road that could connect Hwy 21 and the Effingham Parkway.
The cities of Rincon, Springfield and Guyton have approved projects for their portion of $45 million. The distribution of TSPLOST funds is based on population.
More detailed information about projects can be found on the Effingham County website (www.effinghamcounty.org).
Thompson firmly believes TSLPOST is the best way to pay for Effingham County’s transportation needs.
He said, "As an Effingham voter myself, I see three ways, three options. we have to it. One, we cannot do anything and, with the growth that's coming, we'll have even more congestion, more failing roads and a bigger issues to deal with in the future, or we have the option of raising some other tax basis to fund transportation improvements, or we've got TSPLOST, which is a tax burden that's not completely on the residents."
People who pass through or do business in the county would also pay the TSPLOST, Thompson said.
Effingham is the 31st-fastest growing county in the nation and its population is expected to increase by about 20,000 in the next 10 years. Funds for local road improvements come primarily from property taxes.
For more information about the TSPLOST, go to https://www.effinghamcounty.com/tsplost.