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Commissioners green light Scott Road signal

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    A contract to put a stoplight at the intersection of Scott Road and GA Highway 44 was approved by the Putnam County Commission at its June 4 meeting. It is hoped that the installation will be complete by the end of this year. MARK ENGEL/Staff
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    At the June 4 meeting, the Putnam County Commission approved plans to put a traffic light at Scott Road and Highway 44, resurface 95 miles of roads if the new TSPLOST passes and authorized an agreement to help tighten up cyber security. MARK ENGEL/Staff
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    Putnam County Fire Chief Thomas McClain reported to the commissioners at the June 4 meeting that so far in 2021, there have been 767 calls for service, compared to 439 during the same period last year. MARK ENGEL/Staff

In what two commissioners said was “a long time coming,” the Putnam County Commission on June 4 approved a traffic light for the intersection of Georgia Highway 44 and Scott Road.

The intersection near the Greene County line has been a continuing topic of concern as cars stack up at the stop sign waiting for a break in traffic on Highway 44. Residential communities and commercial properties along Scott Road feed traffic to the intersection and, on top of that, Scott Road is a popular shortcut for motorists on U.S. Highway 441 and Harmony Road who want to get to Lake Oconee Parkway (Highway 44).

The Georgia Department of Transportation has been planning to widen the state road for years, but it was not until earlier this year that GDOT, under pressure from residents and politicians, authorized a traffic signal at the intersection. The caveat was that the county would have to be responsible for the costs

The Commission awarded a $230,234 contract to Reedwick LLC to construct the traffic signal at the intersection. Start of construction will be delayed due, in part, to GDOT’s March change of the required design for poles and mast arms that hold traffic lights over the intersection. Material and manpower shortages are also expected to push the start of construction until late October to mid-November.

It is hoped that the work will be completed by the end of the year. But the good news is that no one will have to wait for the widening of Highway 44, which is still years away.

“The folks out there are going to be tickled to death,” said Commissioner Bill Sharp, whose district includes the Scott Road intersection.

95-mile TSPLOST

In other highway and byway news, the commissioners approved a specific list of county streets and roads that will be repaved and striped if Putnam County residents approve the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) in November.

The referendum is being held sooner than expected because the first TSPLOST has collected revenue from the 1-percent sales tax at a faster rate than projected. This second TSPLOST will begin when the first one hits its maximum allowable revenue and ends sometime in Summer 2022.

The TSPLOST is expected to raise $24 million for road projects with 25 percent of the revenue going to the City of Eatonton.

The county says its share of the revenue will cover improvements on 95 miles of roads, divided almost evenly between all four of the Commissioners’ districts.

Chairman Billy Webster said coming up with a specific list of roads before voters go to the polls is “somewhat unusual in the political way we do business, that we’re this transparent.”

“I want to point out that the chairman got some data for us that was really important about the people traveling on different roads,” said Commissioner Sharp. “So, I think this has been done really fairly, and I commend all the commissioners.”

If approved this fall, repaving will start sometime in 2022.

But wait, there’s more

Another 16 miles of roads (about four miles per district) will be repaved and marked with safety features using money from a Georgia Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant for safety projects.

These projects will start immediately and must be completed by the end of the year.

County Manager Paul Van Haute joined the commissioners in beaming with pride about keeping the county roads up to standard.

”We have been bragged on by a couple of surrounding counties on the quality of our roads,” Van Haute said.

Also at the June 4 Putnam County Commission meeting:

- Commissioners authorized the staff to set a date for a public hearing on proposed changes to the Code of Ordinances. County Attorney Adam Nelson said regulations for breweries and wineries will be added to the Alcoholic Beverage Code and there is a long list of what he called “updates more than changes” to the Building permitting process.

- Fire Chief Thomas McClain gave a comprehensive report on the fire department saying that so far this year they have responded to 767 calls for service including everything from building fires and motor vehicle accidents to helping people in their homes and doing fire investigations.

- Commissioners approved an agreement with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission for technical assistance in upgrading the technology, especially cyber security, at the Administration building and Courthouse. “We do need to harden our defenses,” Van Haute said. “We’ve done a lot of work in the past with some redundant systems and mirroring devices. Some of this stuff has been here since the building has been here.”

- It was announced that the county’s Oconee Springs Park, a family campground on Lake Sinclair, had its best Memorial Day in history.

- Also, a new superintendent was expected to start Monday, June 7 at the Uncle Remus golf course and work to reopen it. The facility closed May 6 for lack of staffing after the previous superintendent and another worker resigned.