Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott says public safety and transportation are the top priorities on his special purpose local option sales tax wish list.
The Cobb Board of Commissioners will decide July 22 whether to put a 1 percent SPLOST, expected to collect $750 million over six years, before voters.
Ott, who represents southeast Cobb’s District 2, finished his list well in advance of the other three district commissioners.
Ott’s $127.7 million list includes $48 million in improvements to the Windy Hill Road area.
One is a connector between Windy Hill and Terrell Mill Road, expected to cost $30 million.
“They are building lanes on the west side of Interstate 75 — toll lanes,” Ott said. “The first exit is Terrell Mill. This is a project we’ve been trying to do for a while. It will effectively connect Delk Road with Akers Mill Road.”
Though Ott stressed the project was planned for well ahead of the Braves’ move to Cobb, he said it will help ease traffic congestion on game days.
“This creates more of a grid and will aid in connecting Paces Ferry and Highway 41,” he said. “Anything that will help disperse the congestion there will be a benefit.”
The other Windy Hill project is a joint effort with the city of Smyrna to redesign Windy Hill Road as it leads to I-75.
Ott’s list has $18 million set aside, while Smyrna is contributing another $22 million.
“It’s a boulevard where you put the cars passing through in the center and give the local folks an opportunity to get to local businesses without having to interact with the traffic that’s just passing through,” Ott said.
A third Cumberland-area project is $5.5 million worth of Cumberland Boulevard improvements. Like the others, Ott said the idea is to ease traffic flow.
“It’s a set of intersection improvements to accomplish different things,” Ott said. “There is also something called the Vinings bypass. It uses existing routes to bypass Paces Ferry and Paces Mill. This is a choke point. It allows people to drive around Vinings without going through it.”
Tad Leithead, chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, said he’s hopeful the projects make the final cut.
“The Windy Hill/Terrell Mill connector is a project the CID has studied for, I think, 20 years,” Leithead said. “Essentially, it establishes a connection between Windy Hill Road north to Terrell Mill Road. It’s a vital connection because it takes pressure off both Windy Hill and Terrell Mill as far as east/west traffic is concerned. That’s a project we’ve studied and we support, and it’s 100 percent within the CID.”
Leithead said the Cumberland CID has its own SPLOST project list that it submitted to commissioners, though it’s merely a list of nonbinding suggestions.
“Anything we can do to facilitate traffic flow in the district will reduce traffic associated with Braves games,” Leithead said.
$11.25 million for take-home vehicles for police
Ott continues to oppose the inclusion of two Cobb Police Department building projects on the overall SPLOST list, which would total more than $100,000 million.
One is a $55 million line item to build a new headquarters and evidence storage room for the Cobb Police Department possibly off County Services Parkway. The existing police headquarters is on North Marietta Parkway near the Square. The other expense is $52.9 million for a new training facility for police and firefighters. The existing training facility is on County Services Parkway. Instead of money for the buildings, Ott has committed $11.25 million to take-home vehicles for police and $1.86 million toward the renovation of police precincts. He said those projects are a better way to improve police morale. One building in Ott’s list is a $4.3 million fire station in the Cumberland Mall area. According to Ott, Fire Station 29 was supposed to be built years ago, and he said the county already has built Fire Station 30. However, Station 29 was derailed by sluggish development in the Cumberland area.
“Now that the area has come back with lots of development, it’s needed in the area,” Ott said. “Fire Station 29 has been on the books, but it wasn’t needed. Now, it is.”
(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Haisten Willis, July 07, 2014. Click HERE to read the original article.)