While I fully understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day — I never realized that building a road to Rome could take 35 years.
For years, economic growth in the area has been stymied due to the lack of a direct connector from US 411 to I-75. When you research this to discover how long we have been suffering, it is shocking to realize the timeline for events leading up to this transportation project — a project that still has not been completed.
It began in 1977, when local officials sought a straight-shot connector from I-75 to U.S. 411 as the interstate was being built. Georgia Department of Transportation promised to remove all traffic signals but one on U.S. 41 to make the drive quicker (currently no less than seven traffic lights on that route).
In 1985, Georgia DOT selects Ridge Route (Route G) as the potential route and begins environmental studies, then in 1988, preferred Route D-VE is determined to be more advantageous which cuts through Rollins property and this decision is unveiled at a March public hearing. The final Environmental Impact Statement is approved by Federal Highway Administration and a Record of Decision issued in 1989, but in 1991 the Rollins family files suit against U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Georgia Department of Transportation contending that the route selection process sidestepped federal law.
Federal funding was halted in 1993 until a further environmental impact study is prepared.
Hoping to fast-track the project, GDOT incorporates the US 411 connector into the proposed Northern Arc proposal in 1997 and begins the requisite studies. In 2002, however, the Northern Arc project was forcibly removed from consideration. In 2003, GDOT renews the US 411 connector project — now removed from the prior Northern Arc project. FHA files public notice that routes will be evaluated
In 2004, GDOT begins studies and public outreach, and President George W. Bush selects the project for “fast-track” status. Eight potential routes and a “no-build” option are presented for public comment. The list is quickly narrowed to four potential routes (A, B, an AB mix and D) and presented for public comment. In November 2004, Route D was modified to avoid and/or minimize environmental impacts
Congress includes a $21.8 million earmark for the project in its 2005 transportation funding. In 2007, Route D undergoes a “value-engineering” study to shave the estimated price from $400 million to $175 million
In February 2008, Route D-VE is unveiled for public comment, and in 2009, the FHA issues a Record of Decision on Route D-VE but asks for modification to the I-75 interchange at GA 20. Modifications are unveiled for public comment in 2010 with estimated costs revised to $182.4 million.
During this time, road opponents have created numerous “creative” distractions to remove the focus away from the importance of this project that has been ongoing for 35 years. Also the opposition proposed Route G as their preferred route. This route would cause motorists to drive four miles north before being able to drive south on I-75 to Atlanta. Also, this is the route for which the GDOT estimated 3,700 vehicles per day would use the route; rather than the 14,800 vehicles per day estimated to use the Route D-VE (pulling 12,800 of these vehicles from Cartersville surface roads).
The bottom line is that while thousands are in agreement about the importance of this project and quite honestly the financial stability and livelihood of citizens within Floyd County and Bartow County are at stake with this transportation project — are we seriously going to stand idly by while one opponent (that doesn’t even reside in either county) destroys two communities?