Which, of course, is the same old answer as in the past and “never” means promise much and deliver little. Perhaps “never” is an exaggeration but it is based on this community to this point forever waiting for something that never seems to arrive.
How does that old lyric go? Oh, yes: “You will eat, bye and bye/In that glorious land above the sky/Work and pray, live on hay/You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.”
Many, many of our readers will have passed on — and many, many already have — waiting for some of these key pathways of improved commerce and personal convenience to appear. A good example is the Rome Bypass, approved for funding more than two decades ago with two segments already built, one under construction and two to go after that. The last one — and no “bypass” is a bypass if it has a missing link — has a target date for construction to begin on 2022. Hence completion in 2025 or roughly 40 years after approved. Sure, Rome was not built in a day, but that is ridiculous.
Everybody knows what the current always-out-of-reach highways are. The U.S. 411 Connector to I-75 in Cartersville where the latest of many obstacles is that the chosen route will mar the scenic view of a century-old violation of Mother Earth by man. The equally important four-laning of Ga. 140 from Ga. 53 to Adairsville and I-75 ... much less the needed extension of this to U.S. 27. And whenever (never?) will the mayhem on Ga. 101 to/from Rockmart be ended with the four-lane promised for that route for decades?
BY THE WAY, not kidding about the scenic view of an abandoned open pit mine.
The Georgia Department of Transportation recently offered to modify the route to put it at the extreme edge of the Rollins family property and well out of sight of the Dobbins Mine tract approved for listing on the National Register of Historic Places by some federal blind man. The response? That would spoil the “setting” in which the mining took place. Gee, can Atlanta and all its suburbs be torn down so they no longer spoil the setting of Stone Mountain? It’s hard to believe some of the arguments raised by the wild bunch of paid guns the Rollins cattle ranchers have hired.
And now, speaking to Bartow County interests, Toby Carr, the director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said funding for the Adairsville to Ga. 53 four-lane would not be available until 2017 at the earliest. That’s actually nothing new; it is the existing timetable but certainly there had been reason to believe this would expedited given the opening of the new Lowes distribution center on the corner of Ga./ 53-140 very shortly. It has 120 truck bays and the hilly, winding, two-lane 140 already looks like there is a 50-50 ratio between big rigs and family cars/school buses without any of those bays yet in operation.
For those who don’t understand DOT-speak, any “funding” in 2017 is then followed by contract bidding, then a couple of years or more of construction. The stretch involved is very short, seven miles, but even then actually getting to use it, assuming the timetable does not slip further, is probably late in 2020.
Hence, there will be at least eight years for local Floyd/Bartow residents to face an increased risk of sudden death along this stretch, which many already avoid.
THE LAGGARDLY pace probably won’t hurt the prospects for economic development in the northeast corner of Floyd County, where there is already much interest. Fortunately the “secondary” network of roads is adequate if not ideal and there is a mainline railroad track as well. Additionally, Greater Rome has many enticements and benefits of lifestyle that rivals along an interstate cannot match. Indeed, interstate proximity appears to mar/ruin livability.
Nonetheless, one doubts anyone expected the state — which highly lauded Floyd for landing the Lowes complex — to keep dawdling when given such a good reason to pick up the pace.
Of course, some may remember that Carr — the new “czar” of all road decisions personally picked by Gov. Nathan Deal — has no known highway planning background beyond figuring out his commutes to work or vacation. He’s a former political advisor to Deal and former head of the state Republican party. That means budget gyrations and politics now likely control road priorities. Perhaps, given political preferences in these parts, he should “plan” on the basis of keeping his party’s voters alive.
And, against this back-ground, one further learns there will likely be no one on the State Transportation Board left to speak out strongly for those previously named road projects. The new 14th Congressional District, of which Floyd is a part, has to pick its member and Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, says there are no Greater Rome names on a list from which her peers (only elected representatives get to vote on the choice) already have an unofficial preference.
IT CERTAINLY can’t be Jeff Lewis of Bartow County, who stays as representative of the 11th District now cut away from this region. At least he has heard of, and supports, both the U.S. 411 Connector and Ga. 140 four-laning. The new “local voice” chosen may be more inclined to know and push road projects in, say, the Dalton area.
Geez, Ms. Dempsey, given the condition Greater Rome’s chances of getting key highways are in, couldn’t you at least turn up the heat a little? Sure, being a part of the GOP legislative leadership — in roughly the way that Pluto, no longer a planet, circles the sun — that is difficult and would bring unwelcome attention and pressure, perhaps even punishment. By denying Greater Rome roads, or closing Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital?
But imagine — just for fun — tossing the name into the ring of retired Rep. Paul Smith, D-Rome, who arguably knows more about highway planning than anyone in the state. The heart attacks caused in and around the governor’s mansion would alone be a sort of sweet revenge.
Besides, as Ms. Dempsey and everyone else in these parts should know, the way matters now stand the Ga. 140 four-lane will be completed about the time Deal’s successor is running for his second term, the U.S. 411 Connector at roughly the time someone graduating from Rome High this year is elected governor, and the Rockmart highway of death erased roughly when someone being born at Floyd Medical Center today is elected president.
IF THE WORLD hands you lemons, make lemonade. When the state hands you an increased risk of being splattered along a highway, honk your horn.