The roadmap for repair

Published 4:05 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Starting next month, Bainbridge residents will be seeing paving projects around the city for years to come.

A year after the TSPLOST (Transportation Special Local Options Sales Tax) went into effect in Decatur County, the first round of paving projects will finally be underway. Last April, TSPLOST added an extra penny to sales in the county. Revenue from that extra penny has already generated $1.2 million in Bainbridge and more than $3 million throughout Decatur County, money that can only be spent on transportation projects.

It’s a long road, but one Bainbridge officials have planned carefully for.

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Broughton Street, Scott Street, Lake Drive, MLK Jr. Drive, Lake Douglas Road and more are on the docket for the first round of resurfacing projects that will cost more than $700,000 over the next eight months.

“Broughton Street behind Winn Dixie is in terrible state,” said Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby. “It desperately needs some attention. By the bridge on Lake Douglas Road is also in very bad shape. I think we are hitting some roads that really did need that attention.”

Only two of the first round projects, Broughton Street and Water Street, will require milling, or ripping up existing asphalt to lay an entirely new layer down. The majority of the projects are resurfacing.

All TSPLOST projects beginning next month will have signage stating the work is funded by TSPLOST. Residents should expect to see roadwork for years to come, said Hobby.

If the weather is good, there will be a paving project in the works. That also means residents will need to be patient with certain high-traffic areas, he added.

“Paving moves pretty fast,” said Bainbridge Public Services Director Steve Winburn. “We can pave one mile a day, but not many roads are just one mile long, so we have to move all of our equipment for the next day, which is what takes so long.”

TSPLOST projects were originally scheduled to begin last fall, but Hurricane Michael hit the community in October and forced Bainbridge to reevaluate its priorities. With the vast majority of storm debris removed and city departments back to their normal routines, TSPLOST has made its way back to the top of the to-do list.

With a year of TSPLOST money accumulated, officials are confident that no additional money will need to be borrowed to complete the scheduled projects.

“We didn’t feel like that was responsible,” said Hobby.

One TSPLOST project of particular interest to residents is moving Bainbridge’s truck route out of downtown to Whigham Dairy Road. That is scheduled to occur in 2020.