ACC Commissioners to see first cut of transportation projects
The transition to an all-electric fleet and $25 million dollars for Athens Transit operations are among the projects that made the first cut for TSPLOST 2023, but more cuts will be necessary before the final list is certain.
At their work session on Tuesday, ACC Commissioners will see the first cut of potential projects to be funded by TSPLOST 2023 – a 1 percent transportation special purpose local option sales tax, which is expected to be in front of voters next May.
A citizens committee reviewed 87 projects – some submitted by staff, but many by ACC residents – with a total cost of $694 million dollars. TSPLOST 2023, if passed by the voters next year, is expected to yield $144.5 million, meaning that the citizens committee had some tough choices to make.
The first step in the process of getting to that $144.5 million ceiling is a scaled back list of projects that total about 150 percent of the expected tax revenue. Commissioners will see and discuss that list at their Tuesday work session, and then the citizens committee will narrow that list down to a group of projects that will meet the revenue target.
Right now, there are 48 projects on the list, 42 of which are community-led submissions. More than half of the potential projects chosen by the committee are bicycle and pedestrian improvements, seven are related to public transit, and 14 projects address roads, bridges, and stormwater improvements.
Traditionally underserved areas in East and North Athens could see improvements after a community-led effort submitted a number of project ideas. On the list of potential projects are new bus stops and street lighting in the North Peter and Vine Street areas.
Big ticket items on the potential projects list include $25 million for Athens Transit operations and $16.7 million for bike and pedestrian improvements laid out by Athens in Motion. A package of repairs and improvements for the county’s bridges was scaled back from some $4.6 million to about $2.1 million.
One major item that didn’t make this first cut is pavement maintenance. County officials had asked for nearly $72.5 million to improve and repave county roads. Removing that project from the list of possible TSPLOST spending doesn’t mean that roads will go unpaved however. County staff will need to find a different way to pay for the maintenance, probably through the regular budgeting process.