Justin Banks

Justin Banks, the new project manager for the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, did not have a whole lot of answers for some of the Rome-Floyd Chamber Transportation committee members Wednesday. He has been in the post for three months and is still learning a lot about the three decades-old project that is currently slated for construction as early as 2022. / Doug Walker

Banks said the latest timetable shows right of way acquisition beginning in 2020 with the approximately seven-mile direct link to I-75 slated to be open to bids for construction in 2022.

"We'd like to be alive when it's finished," said Ansley Saville.

The proposed route would start at the interchange of U.S. 411 and U.S. 41 west of Cartersville, and loop to the north and east, follow a section of Old Grassdale Road past the Trinity Rail and Gerdau Ameristeel plants before intersecting I-75 just north of the Anheuser Busch plant.

Former Rome commissioner Buzz Wachsteter asked Banks if there was any way the project could be expedited.

"I think we've waited long enough," Wachsteter said.

Banks explained that since the bulk of the funding was coming from the federal government that right of way acquisition could not get started until the Environmental Impact Statement is completed and there are approximately 140 parcels to acquire.

"It's not going to be a quick build," Banks said. He acknowledged that years of delay has been a frequent point of contention for stakeholders.

Banks explained the four-lane project would be constructed with limited access. The project would include several multi-lane roundabouts in lieu of traffic signals at several key intersection.

"We want to make sure it's safe and slows cars down," Banks said.

Tom Bennett said Rome and Floyd County had been told in the past the project would be built to interstate standards and Randy Smith, owner of Paper Pak in Rome, said roundabouts were certainly not a part of interstate standards.

"If you make it awful difficult for truckers they are not going to go that way," Smith said. "If you put those roundabouts in there that seems to be to very restrictive as far as trucks."

Banks did say the route as currently proposed has 12 bridges and four major culverts.

"The good news is that we have a concept that is buildable," said Rome City Manager Sammy Rich. "If this is what we're going to get, let's get it."

Banks told the committee that another public open house to update residents of Floyd and Bartow County on the project would be scheduled for sometime during the upcoming winter after the latest concept work has been completed and is ready to be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.

Rome-Floyd Planning Director Artagus Newell introduced his new transportation planner Kayla Schaaf to the committee and said that public comment on the new comprehensive planning document for Rome and Floyd County must be submitted by Oct. 1. Comments can be made online after reviewing the plan at www.romefloydplan.com.