The 6.34-mile, limited-access highway would give drivers from Floyd and Chattooga counties a straight shot to Interstate 75 in Bartow County and ease congestion through Cartersville.
The project is opposed by the wealthy Rollins family, whose 1,800-acre Cartersville Ranch LLC includes Dobbins Mountain and the mine. The historic value of the defunct manganese mine is one of the environmental issues they raised to force an alternate route selection.
“We’re pleased that they worked through the wealth of information and documentation and recognized the rich Bartow mining history at the site,” the family’s attorney, Henry Parkman, said Wednesday. “We think if (Georgia Department of Transportation) had done a better job of research, they would have realized this and selected a different route from the beginning.”
The State Historical Preservation Office had previously issued an opinion that the remains of the mine were not eligible for listing.
The Rollinses appealed for a determination from the Keeper, part of the U.S. Department of Interior.
The report states the site and documentation illustrate late-19th century and early-20th century mining operations in an area noted for producing large quantities of manganese ore for manufacturing steel during the two World Wars.
“A determination that the property is eligible … assures that the values that make it significant are considered in the planning of projects in which the (f)ederal (g)overnment is involved,” the report reads.
A transportation sales tax package that would have provided funding for the estimated $146 million road failed at the polls on Tuesday.
Federal funding is scheduled to be available in 2019. But the eligibility determination means the Federal Highway Administration will want more studies to prove there is no better alternative route.
Click here to see a previous report about the history of the Dobbins mine.