Future planning: Will population growth continue to follow traditional paths?

A motorist whizzes past Rome’s welcome sign on U.S. 411 east in this file photo. / Doug Walker

CARTERSVILLE - Floyd County’s planned link to Interstate 75 in Cartersville appears to be getting easier for motorists but relief is still years away.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials and consultants updated a citizens advisory committee Monday on the status of the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor project. A public open house is slated for later this month.

The Rome contingent was unanimous in their praise for a slight realignment that uses roundabouts at intersections to allow for arterial road-style access.

“There are no stoplights,” said Ken Wright, director of business and industry services at the Rome Floyd Chamber. “If you want to continue on without stopping, you can.”

Todd Barker, consultant manager for GDOT, said they’ve refined the design since public hearings last year left open the question of limited access - favored in Floyd for the speed - versus controlled access, seen in Bartow as the key to new development. The new plans address both needs.

Floyd County’s special project manager, Bruce Ivey, said there are just three roundabouts between U.S. 411 and I-75, “which will aid in the flow of traffic.” Rome City Manager Sammy Rich agreed.

“That’s what a lot of our folks have been concerned about,” Rich said.

But Janet Byington of Rome got to the heart of the issue when she asked if the project was still on track for construction in 2022. The answer: sort of.

GDOT project manager Justin Banks said they still plan to be ready to start buying right of way in 2020 and to put the project out for bid in 2022. But the Federal Highway Administration has pushed back funding to 2022 for right of way and 2027 for construction.

“That was kind of a gut-punch,” Rich said. But he noted that the project schedule is unchanged.

“Once it’s ready to go, there may be money,” he said. “And we, as a community, can lobby to have it moved back up again.”

State Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, was already talking with Banks about options after the presentation at the Clarence Brown Conference Center in Cartersville. The newly elected Scoggins said he’s making the project a priority.

GDOT spokesman Mohamed Arafa said a public open house is slated for Feb. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 501 Grassdale Road in Cartersville.