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The road ahead for roads will be in the voters hands
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We’ve extolled the virtues of the Transportation Investment Act before.

By law, the one-cent sales tax to be levied across the region of 10 counties will expire in 10 years, if voters so choose to adopt it next July.

The list of projects approved for Effingham County includes all four phases of the Effingham Parkway, also known as the Georgia Portway, and interchange improvements at Interstate 16 and Old River Road. The grand total for those projects is estimated to be $151 million. Of that, local funding will pick up about 20 percent of the tab. The rest is pegged to come from the T-SPLOST.

Those projects are slated for construction 2020-22, toward the end of the T-SPLOST.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is making a big push to get the T-SPLOST vote in the affirmative out. They’ve hired transportation expert Doug Callaway to be the Georgia Transportation Alliance executive director. The GTA was formed earlier this year to work on long-term transportation strategy — including the T-SPLOST vote in the non-metro Atlanta districts.

Under the Transportation Investment Act, each county also will get a pot of money to use on transportation and road projects, aside from the priority list that will go before voters next year. By the formula enacted, 25 percent of the money raised through the region-wide sales tax will be disbursed throughout the counties to be used on transportation and transit projects of their own choosing. Projections call for the one-cent tax to net $1,608,343,970 over 10 years in the Coastal Georgia district, ranging from Screven County to Camden County. If those projections hold true, then there will be more than $400 million to split up among the counties, based on the Local Assistance Road Program formula, to use at each’s discretion.

If voters approve, the 1-cent tax will go into effect across the counties that make up the Coastal Regional Commission. While much of the area doesn’t have the power of a large metropolitan area to generate sales tax, there is one advantage the region has much of the other districts.

All 112 miles of I-95 run through the territory covered under the Coastal Regional Commission. That means the millions of drivers, that is, tourists, snowbirds, Yankees and assorted visitors driving through the area, who stop along the way and purchase goods and/or services will be contributing to the till.

Yes, Yankees will be helping build our roads, if we so choose.

In the current tidal wave of the calls for smaller government and tax restructuring, and less taxation, backing an additional tax seems incongruous with the rising sentiment. Some of the Chatham County projects — not to include the two phases of the Effingham Parkway contained wholly within Chatham’s boundaries — also could be of great benefit to Effingham residents. Also on the docket are the widening of I-16 from I-95 to I-516 and reconstruction of the I-95/Highway 21 interchange. With 70 percent of Effingham’s workforce employed outside the county, and the vast majority of those in Chatham and Savannah, those projects will have a great impact on the daily lives of Effingham residents.

The final list is complete and has been approved by the regional roundtable to be sent to the voters. Now begins the push to have the tax meet the approval of the voters, an approval we think it merits.