Hamilton Road project speeds up
LaGRANGE — The acquisition of property needed to widen Hamilton Road from Main Street to Auburn Avenue could begin a year earlier than expected, according to state officials.
The timeline adjustment comes after the Georgia Department of Transportation’s State Transportation Board met in LaGrange last week and announced changes in funding mechanisms that will allow for state funds, rather than federal, to be used for the project, according to Jay Roberts, GDOT’s state planning director.
“Because of the passage of HB 170 (The Transportation Funding Act of 2015), we now have the money to move projects like this forward,” he said in a written statement. “This project has been on the books for decades, but because of the federal process, we were not able to move the project forward. This project probably would never have been completed if we had to continue the federal process; however, by moving this project to state dollars, we can now make this project a reality.”
The changes in funding will allow the state to begin purchasing properties in the proposed construction zone a year earlier than the proposed two-year timeline given at the public information open house Oct. 13.
LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said the reliance on state funds rather than federal allows for the project to move forward in a timely manner.
“I’m very pleased with GDOT’s decision to use state funds for the Hamilton Road project,” he said. “If we continued to wait on federal funding, the project may have been delayed. The state has increased transportation funding because of HB 170, and they have committed to using state funds for this project. That should mean the acquisition will begin in summer 2016.”
Kevin VanHouten, GDOT’s director of the Hamilton Road project, said he expects the state will spend about $19 million to purchase the 64 properties and an additional $9.5 million to widen the road. The construction will begin after the acquisition of the properties and will likely take about two more years.
The widening and reconstruction of Hamilton Road from Auburn Avenue to Main Street will include widening the existing two-lane roadway to provide four 11-foot lanes, two in each direction, with a 14-foot center turn lane introduced south of the intersection with Union and Fannin streets. Pedestrian crosswalks would be added across all side roads and at signalized intersections; right-turn lanes would be constructed at signalized intersections and a 20-foot raised median would be introduced north of the intersection with Union and Fannin streets and continue to the intersection with Hamilton Road and Morgan Street.