Effingham County officials invited outgoing state Department of Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl to Springfield to thank him for his help over the years and to ask for a few more favors before he departs office.
County commissioners, along with engineering consultants from Moreland Altobelli, laid out plans for the Effingham Parkway and Old Augusta Road for Linnenkohl on Tuesday. They also wanted to know how much help the state DOT could be expected to provide for those two road projects.
The Effingham Parkway Extension also won’t come cheaply or quickly — building the entire Effingham Parkway, more than 16 miles long, could take at least five years and cost upwards of $90 million, according to a rough estimate by Moreland Altobelli’s Karla Poshedly.
“We don’t have enough money for all our projects,” Linnenkohl said, noting an original estimate for Effingham Parkway construction alone is $43 million. “That $43 million isn’t just something the DOT is going to find lying around.”
The keys to getting the Effingham Parkway off the ground will be funding and the cooperation of Chatham County’s agencies, state transportation officials said Tuesday. Linnenkohl was joined by members of the DOT’s district office in listening to Effingham’s roadwork plans.
Poshedly said the Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Organization has agreed “reluctantly” that the southern end of the Effingham Parkway Extension should be a shared interchange with Jimmy DeLoach Parkway near its intersection with I-95. The Effingham Parkway is slated to start at Highway 119 near Little McCall Road.
“This was the final logical termini,” she said.
The Effingham Parkway is in the DOT’s work program for 2010, meaning there will be funding. There is $4 million for preliminary engineering.
One aspect the state won’t fund is right-of-way acquisition, Linnenkohl said. That responsibility will be borne by the local governments.
He also said the Effingham Parkway may be something that has to be split into phases.
“You have to, sooner or later, after preliminary engineering, decide how you’re going to build the project,” Linnenkohl said.
Because the projected rights-of-way also may include potential commercial property, the right-of-way acquisition prices could jump significantly.
Since the Effingham Parkway ends in Chatham, cooperation from that county and its MPO is needed.
“I understand it’s not a priority of Chatham County’s,” county commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said. “But it is for us.”
Said state Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler): “The problem is, I don’t think they’ve bought into it. I don’t think there’s any more important part of Effingham Parkway than that part in Chatham County, and it’s only about a mile.”
Chatham MPO officials also have to put the Effingham Parkway in their work program for funding. Effingham officials wondered if Chatham could put a halt to their project.
“Theoretically, I guess they can,” Linnenkohl said. “Most of the time when an MPO stops a program, it’s because they don’t have the funding.”
He urged Effingham officials to continue to press the issue.
“I wouldn’t back off on this,” Linnenkohl said. “You’re just going to have to get in with the MPO and talk it out.”
Effingham, DOT and Chatham MPO officials are scheduled to have a concept meeting at the Effingham County administrative complex on Dec. 17.