The first project on a Georgia Department of Transportation list has been in the works for nearly 40 years, but it is apparently inching closer and closer to the start, not finish, line.

GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry compared progress on several highway projects in Rome and Floyd County to running a marathon.

During a presentation to the Greater Rome Board of Realtors, he said “We see the finish line in front of us.”

Right of way acquisition funding for the long awaited direct link from Rome to I-75 — now known as the Rome-Cartersville Economic Development Corridor — is scheduled for Fiscal Year 2022, with some 78 parcels that need to be purchased.

“We look at the property impacts and always try to minimize property impacts, then have to go out and acquire right of way,” McMurry said.

GDOT’s condemnation rate for acquiring property has been in the 10% to 12% range, he noted, and only 5% ever go into court.

The right of way issue has been a thorn in the side of the Rome to I-75 highway project for close to four decades.

“It’s really about moving people and freight and we’ve got to figure out how to do that safely, effectively and efficiently,” McMurry said.

The project, as it is currently designed, includes several roundabouts. He explained that a normal intersection may have as many as 32 ways to run into somebody, roundabouts only eight.

The connector from U.S. 411 will join I-75 near Old Grassdale Road north of Cartersville, near the Budweiser brewery. It is expected to cost $132 million.

McMurry also talked about the last two legs of the bypass around Rome, from U.S. 27 South around to Ga. 101 and Ga. 101 to U.S. 411. They are projected to cost a little more than $300 million

He said right of way acquisition has already been completed on both legs of the bypass, except any property that might be required for environmental mitigation. The south leg, a little over 3.3 miles, from U.S. 27 to Ga. 101 is currently slated to be put out for bid in FY 2024 while the southeast link, right at 4.5 miles from Ga. 101 to U.S. 411, is on the books for FY 2025.

The budget for the south leg is $147 million and the southeast link is expected to cost $156 million.

Enough of the marathons, let’s take a look at the sprints:

♦ Improvements to Second Avenue from West Third Street to Turner McCall Boulevard, maybe more of a 10K, are now in the budget for FY 2022.

That project has been complicated somewhat by having to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make slight modifications to the levee along the west side of the road.

The improvements to the intersection at Floyd Medical Center will include dual left turn lanes from Second Avenue, going west on Shorter Avenue. The project is expected to cost $21.5 million.

♦ Renovations to the Turner McCall Boulevard bridge over the Etowah River are expected to cost $29 million and are on the books for bidding in FY 2025.

“We have to raise the bridge a couple of feet to satisfy the railroad. Railroad standards have changed,” McMurry said.

The work will include longer turn lanes at Hicks Drive and East First Street on the other side of the river.

“We’re going to use accelerated bridge construction techniques, such that we can keep the bridge open, which will be a challenge,” McMurry said. “We’ll prebuild pieces of the bridge and do as much of the work as we can before we ever have to impact traffic.”

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