The approximately 1.5 mile stretch of road is included in the 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project list and planned to be constructed as those funds become available. Property owners, however, are receiving interest from development projects and have requested financing to build the road themselves and be repayed as SPLOST funds are drawn down.
The Burnt Hickory Road extension would divert the road before crossing the railroad tracks near Cassville Road and instead take traffic directly to U.S. 411 in front of Shaw Plant X. Engineers working with authority members on the project advised this opportunity would help secure the road where it can best serve transportation needs before development occurs.
“Any well planned city has a perimeter around it for development and so that you can get around it to bypass downtown areas,” said Karl Lutjens of Southland Engineering. “One of the major keys to this perimeter is a small portion of Burnt Hickory, where we actually extend Burnt Hickory Road and tie Burnt Hickory Road into 411 — that connection would be made right across from the Shaw Plant X.
“It connects Burnt Hickory and 411 and it goes through this property we call Walker Ridge. Walker Ridge is about 250 acres and is privately owned. ... Their property is actively developing property. With the state of the economy now, there’s a lot of planning going on and they have interested parties that would bring development to this property whether the road is there or not. However, if those development plans go in without this road being programmed into that, there could be a large industrial or commercial facility sitting in the way of this road. So it’s important we get this road built before the SPLOST funds are actually available.”
Interstate 75 creates the eastern leg of the proposed perimeter with Old Alabama to the south and Douthit Ferry Road and Burnt Hickory Road on the west connecting motorists to U.S. 411. The controversial U.S. 411 connector would finish the loop north of Cartersville back to I-75.
Attorney Jeff Watkins is representing the land owner, 411 Partners. Although the project is in its early stages, the owners of the property known as Walker Ridge are eager to get started. They have received a letter of intent for a large commercial/rental development with a “major grocery store chain” as the anchor tenant.
411 Partners would like to get engineering and necessary studies done in time to begin building the road next spring with construction time lasting about 12 months after groundbreaking.
“This is just the first step,” Watkins said. “The inducement resolution has to be done first. ... This has to be in place in order to trigger the ability for any of the costs prior to road construction to be a part of the bond issuance. Obviously, nothing will be done, bonds won’t be issued until the county enters into an intergovernmental agreement.
“Bartow County will ultimately decide what’s going to happen to this, but it’s important this is done now because there’s going to be expenses that have to be started now to get the ball rolling to be able to start construction as soon as possible.”
As development interests make their plans for future growth, Lutjens reminded board members that due to topography of the area, their prefered route for the road may not always be available. Lutjens also voiced his enthusiasm at the opportunity for the community to enter a public-private partnership citing transportation benefits and the business-friendly culture it could foster by setting such a precedent.
“I think this is something we need and if we don’t do something now, we may not get it for another 20 years,” Lutjens said. “We’re excited about this because this is what you see happening today. This is in my mind, a public-private partnership in order to get something that is beneficial to the community, but also benefits private industry — it stimulates the economy. We believe that a venture like this would show that we’re progressive — that we believe in generating dollars in this community.”
The issue will next go before the county commissioner for review before a decision is made on entering an intergovernmental agreement with 411 Partners to issue the $6.28 million in bonds for the construction of the Burnt Hickory Road extension, which the county will purchase with SPLOST funds as they become available.