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T-SPLOST vote approved for May 22

Bryan County voters will decide next spring whether to fund various transportation improvement projects around the county with a 1-cent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The Bryan County Board of Commissioners voted Monday morning during a special called meeting in favor of a resolution to place a T-SPLOST referendum on the general election ballot on May 22. If it passes, tax revenue would be collected starting July 1.

Money collected from the levy would be split between the county and the cities of Richmond Hill and Pembroke based on population, as is the case with the regular SPLOST which was approved in November.

The Georgia Legislature now allows counties to individually seek such transportation funding. A regional T-SPLOST proposal in 2012 lost, with Bryan being one of only two counties (out of 10) in Coastal Georgia to approve the measure.

“Our last Census ranked Bryan County as the 27th fastest growing county in the nation from 2010 to 2015. In 1980, the population here was 7,000. Now, it is approaching 40,000 and we’re expected to hit 60,000 by 2030,” County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger said. “People are moving to this county and we need the infrastructure in place to accommodate the growth. At the public input sessions and forums we’ve held concerning the comprehensive plan, transportation concerns are always the most-talked about issue. There’s a lot at stake here, and we hope residents will consider this when they head to the polls in May.”

SPLOST, which also is a 1-cent levy, is expected to generate about $33 million over six years. Of that, the county will receive $18.8 million, while Richmond Hill and Pembroke will get $11 million and $3.2 million, respectively.

In Bryan County, T-SPLOST would fund an array of projects that would complement the new I-95 interchange at Belfast Keller Road and the proposed widening of Highway 144. A 2015 transportation study advised installing traffic lights, roundabouts or other improvements at a number of intersections, including Harris Trail at Belfast River Road, Port Royal Road at Harris Trail and Port Royal Road at Highway 144.

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