One of the most contentious issues in recent state history, a regional 1-percent sales tax for potential road and transit projects, was rejected by voters throughout Georgia Tuesday.
With incomplete results as of press time, in the 10-county Coastal Region, which includes Bulloch County, voters overwhelmingly voted no to a penny tax that state officials projected would collect approximately $1.6 billion dollars in revenue for the area.
More than 57 percent of region voters, including nearly 53 percent in Bulloch County (4,802 to 4,323), rejected the measure commonly referred to as TSPLOST.
The referendum fell flat in all but four of the Coastal Region’s counties — Long, Liberty Bryan and Screven.
Counties that comprise the Coastal Region are: Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven.
State leaders said the tax would have directly invested in transportation infrastructure to connect communities, reduced congestion and improved roadway safety while generating new jobs and more than $2 billion in direct and indirect economic activity.
Voters turned down the motion despite a strong push by area business leaders and Gov. Nathan Deal.
Opponents of the measure argued that a new tax for roads was excessive and took issue with the fact that discretion regarding how monies would be spent was not given solely to the Georgia Department of Transportation, but local officials.
Projects that were slated to be completed during the next decade in Bulloch County using TSPLOST funds included: the installation of bike/pedestrian paths and related traffic measures along U.S. Highway 301 between Tillman Road and Veterans Memorial Highway ($1,050,000), the widening of Georgia Highway 67 from the Veterans Memorial Bypass to Interstate 16 ($42,938,982), construction of a north portion of the bypass ($32,209,014), and the widening to four lanes/improving of U.S. Highway 301 from Statesboro to six miles south of Sylvania ($77,211,992).
Additional discretionary funds would have contributed to paving, repairing and constructing roads, according to local officials.
Other area projects that would have been funded include: a bridge replacement at U.S. Highway 80 and the Ogeechee River (Bryan County), the widening of Highway 301/Georgia Highway 73 in Sylvania (Screven County), and bridge reconstructions on Highway 80 at Lazaretto Creek and Bull River in Savannah (Chatham County).