THOMASVILLE — Almost 100 miles of Thomas County roads will benefit from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved by voters in July.

The proposed Local Assistance Road Program (LARP) wish list for 2007 has 16 roads Thomas County commissioners hope the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) will see fit to resurface.

Some of the same roads are on SPLOST and LARP lists, said Tony Wooten, director of the county public works department.

Of the $36 million the six-year SPLOST is supposed to generate, $7.3 million is earmarked for improvements to county roads.

At a DOT board meeting in April, DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl said that if the electorate approved the tax, DOT would contribute 75 cents for each dollar of SPLOST revenue spent on roadwork.

Thomas County Commissioner Louis Rehberg, chairman of the board’s road committee, said $7.3 million in SPLOST revenue is earmarked for county roads.

“We will match up to $7.3 million,” Craig Solomon, DOT district communications officer, told the Times-Enterprise Friday.

“There may be some equipment involved in that,” Rehberg said. “We’ve got some 35-year-old equipment that needs to be replaced.”

Prior to the July SPLOST vote, commissioners discussed a priority road list, but the priority idea was ditched. Rehberg said that while road crews prepare for a large project, such as Summerhill Road, paving can get under way on a smaller, less-involved road.

“LARP roads can help determine this, too,” Wooten explained.

DOT LARP funds might change a SPLOST program to a LARP project, Rehberg said. LARP pays 60 percent of the cost of a resurfacing project.

Contracts have been issued for 2006 LARP projects on:

• Salem Road between Ozell Road and State Road 33

• Cairo Road between the U.S. 84 bypass and Pine Tree Boulevard

• Magnolia Road between Pine Tree Boulevard and Metcalf Road

DOT personnel will rate roads on the 2007 LARP list submitted by commissioners. DOT will decide which roads are resurfaced with LARP funding.

Figuring into the SPLOST road projects is the ever-increasing cost of roadwork. Based on 2006 numbers, the cost might increase 25 to 30 percent during the life of the tax, Wooten said.

“In the past four months, the cost of asphalt has gone up 24 percent,” he added.

“Priorities and circumstances change, and we have to adjust with them,” Rehberg explained.

Thomas County will be required to submit a priority roads list to DOT annually while the SPLOST is in effect.

“A one- to two-year comprehensive transportation plan will be required before DOT funding begins,” the DOT spokesman said. “That’s the normal process.”

DOT funding will be received while SPLOST road projects are under way or after completion. DOT’s financial contributions will come from federal funds and state aid, “and LARP funds will be looked at,” Solomon said.

The funds will go toward mutually acceptable transportation projects agreed upon by county government, which will act on behalf of itself and the cities of Barwick, Boston, Coolidge, Meigs, Ochlocknee, Pavo and Thomasville.

Thomas County government will act as a conduit through which Thomasville and the smaller cities will receive SPLOST-related DOT funding.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 220.

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