RINCON — County Manager Tim Callanan took a brief detour before getting to the main point of his speech to the Rotary Club of Effingham County on Thursday.
Callahan updated club members on the progress of TSPLOST projects before talking about the November SPLOST referendum. The first bit of information he shared was greeted with enthusiasm.
“The Effingham Parkway — we are on our way to getting started with our state partners, on that,” he said. “As a matter of fact, just this morning, we had our first meeting with the contractor, Balfour Beatty, and they are basically discussing with us where they can put their work trailers and so forth.”
The Effingham Parkway project consists of constructing a two-lane new location roadway. It will begin at Ga. Hwy 30 approximately 1.5 miles west of Ga. Hwy 21 and end at Blue Jay Road, approximately 3.2 miles west of Ga. Hwy 21.
The intersection of Effingham Parkway at Blue Jay Road will be realigned to have Effingham Parkway tie into the east side of Blue Jay Road and the west side of Blue Jay Road would form a T-intersection with Effingham Parkway.
The typical section is proposed to have 12-foot lanes with 10-foot outside shoulders (including 6.5-foot paved) on an 80-foot right-of-way. Right-turn and left-turn lanes will be provided at the intersections of Ga. Hwy 30, Goshen Road, Walter Tuten Road and Blue Jay Road. The total length of the project is approximately 6.4 miles.
“We are proceeding with that and, I believe, having a groundbreaking at some point next week,” Callanan said. “That was a decade-plus long in the making and $56 million, of which the county contributed north of $20 million. It is by far the largest expenditure that Effingham County has taken on.”
Callanan said the county has been setting money aside for the parkway for years thanks to the 2020 passage of a TSPLOST referendum and a SPLOST that is set to expire in June 2022.
“Both of those cases required the voters of Effingham County to give the county government their confidence with regards to executing those penny sales taxes,” Callanan said. “We are going to make sure that money is put to work and put to work as quickly as we can.”
In addition to the Effingham Parkway, TSPLOST will fund approximately 25 miles of repaving projects. Included is a new intersection at McCall and Blue Jay roads.
“We want to show folks that we are getting it done as quickly as we can after the (TSPLOST apporval last fall),” Callanan said. “The tax (funds) just started coming in in April.”
Callanan noted that TSPLOST funds are used for transportation purposes only. SPLOST, he said, has a much wider scope for capital expenditures.
Effingham County government and the city councils in Rincon, Guyton and Springfield recently reached an intergovermental agreement to spend an estimated $80 million over six years if voters opt to continue SPLOST.
“Twenty percent of the proceeds will be set aside for county-wide services — services that are provided to the citizens regardless if you are in the unincorporated or a municipal area — like our court system, our social services, administration, tax commissioner and that sort of thing,” Callanan said. “The remainder, the 80 percent, is going to be split on a pro rata basis based off the new Census data that recently came out. What that means on the county side is that we are going to get about $16 million for county-wide infrastructure and an addition $47 million for infracture that supports the unincorporated areas of the county.”
County projects include expanding and renovating the Effingham County Elections & Registration Office and moving the UGA Extension/4-H Office back to Springfield from Rincon, possibly to the Administrative Annex on Ga. Hwy 119.
Callanan said county officials intend to group organizations that have shared interests and/duties on the same campus.
“Therefore, you create this one-stop service where you can come to one building to get our tax bill, your permit to apply for a septic system,” he said. “All of that would essentially be in one facility, which is the administration building.”
Removing some services from the Effingham County Courthouse will give it much-needed space for judicial needs.
“Throughout our entire plan, there is very little new construction,” Callahan said. “We are renovating existing space that we already have and are underutilizing or not utilizing.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Effingham Parkway groundbreaking ceremony is set Sept. 10 at 9:30 a.m. on Goshen Road across from Hazzard Trail.