Appetite for new Ga. 22/Ga. 24 roundabout not very strong among county commissioners

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The topic of a Ga. 22/Ga. 24 roundabout arose again at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners regular meeting, and the feedback wasn't exactly positive from the majority of the county commissioners.

Commissioners Sammy Hall and Emily Davis appeared squarely in the "no" camp. Hall said that his biggest issue with the project was unfunded mandates. Although the DOT would pay the entirety of the $3 million bill for the project, the county would be required to provide lighting around the roundabout, which would come in around $3,000 per year, according to County Manager Carlos Tobar. The $3,000 per year would be an unfunded mandate, according to Hall.

(The Department of Transportation) in the state of Georgia has more money than anybody else. They are wealthy beyond belief," Hall said. "They want come down to Baldwin County and to stick us with a 3,000 dollar bill, which I promise you will go up."

Davis nodded along while Hall was talking, and she also voiced concerns with the cost of lighting the roundabout.

District 5's Johnny Westmoreland also had reservations about the project, including the total cost.

"Twenty-five accidents over a 10-year period is not that bad to me. Like Sammy said, there are other intersections where we've had bad accidents," Westmoreland said.

If all goes accordingly, which it might not, construction on the Ga. 22/Ga. 24 roundabout most likely would begin at some point in 2024. Construction would last for roughly 18 months, and there would be no detours or road closures, according to the scope of the project. There would be lane closures, however.

However, a vote from the county commission would be required before the project was approved by the DOT. There are five county commissioners in Baldwin County, which means that at least three county commissioners would have to vote in favor of the project.

District 4's Henry Craig was a firm yes on Tuesday evening, saying that the roundabout project had merit. Craig also said that it's important to stay in the good graces of the DOT and the state government. 

"We need to earn a reputation of cooperation with the state, and this is a little investment over to time to provide a modern, safe solution (for the intersection)," Craig said. 

Tobar also pointed this out.

"We're on 'favored county status' with GDOT," Tobar said,  pointing out how "favored status" with the DOT has its benefits. "Our county is favored in Atlanta, and I would like for ya'll to keep that in mind."

District 1's Kendrick Butts also spoke in favor of the proposed roundabout.

"It sounds like a good deal for me," Butts said. "For 250 dollars a month, we can have a significant drop in wrecks and fatalities."


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