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April 20-- Building a simple turn lane – but one that is helping bring perhaps 150 new jobs to Toombs County – is the first local Transportation Investment Act (TIA) funded project to begin, State Transportation Board (STB) and Georgia Department of Transportation officials announced today.

Hundreds more similar regional and local projects across much of Middle Georgia, all financed by TIA sales tax revenues, will follow over the next decade.

Toombs is one of 17 counties in the Heart of Georgia/Altamaha Regional Commission District. Voters there – and in the River Valley and Central Savannah River Area regions – last summer approved a 1 percent sales tax increase for the next 10 years to be dedicated exclusively to transportation improvements in their respective counties and cities.

Heart of Georgia communities are expected to realize nearly $400 million in infrastructure improvements over the course of that decade. The area primarily is represented on the STB by Board Member Don Grantham.

“This is the first of many great ‘TIA’ days for Toombs County and the Heart of Georgia,” Mr. Grantham commented. “The trust and confidence the region’s voters expressed in their local elected leaders and also in the Department of Transportation were much appreciated; now that trust begins to reap dividends. I am confident they will come to view TIA as one of the best investments in their communities they ever made.”

The Toombs project will add a dedicated turn lane on State Route 130 north of Lyons to serve a new pet food manufacturing facility. That U.S. Pet plant is bringing a $25 million private capital investment and between 100 and 150 new jobs to the area. The turn lane, costing $162,000, will be constructed by McClendon Enterprises, Inc., of nearby Vidalia, and should open to traffic this summer.

Forty-six counties and their respective cities comprise the three regional districts that approved the TIA referendum last July. Cumulatively, they are expected to self-generate approximately $1.8 billion in new revenue dedicated to local transportation improvements.

Georgia DOT will coordinate work for cities and counties on some smaller jobs, like the Toombs project, and also assist in the engineering and construction management of larger projects. All of the projects were selected by regional commission roundtables of local elected officials after much public input. Seventy-five percent of the revenues will be utilized for the construction of these roundtable pre-selected projects while the remaining 25 percent