McDONOUGH – The Henry County Board of Commissioners unanimously supported the construction of the first phase of the Western Parallel Connector at its meeting Tuesday morning.
The Western Parallel Connector is a four-lane road that would run parallel to Interstate 75 and would provide motorists with a way to get across Henry County without having to get on the interstate.
The first phase would run from Hudson Bridge Road to Jodeco Road in the Stockbridge area.
According to Dee Clemmons, district 2 commissioner, the project is fully funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the county would be able to help the project by donating right of way land to the state to construct the project.
According to Clemmons, the right-of-way donation would come in the form of property owners voluntarily donating the land for the road, and she was confident the property owners would do so.
“The landowners realize the benefit that if they donate the land and get that road in, their property could become more valuable by having that four-lane road in, because right now it’s sitting,” Clemmons said.
Clemmons said there would be no cost associated with property owners donating the land, and that right-of-way donation would help the cost of the Western Parallel Connector project.
Clemmons also said that the road would include pathways on the east side of the road and sidewalks.
Cheri Hobson-Matthews, Henry County manager, reiterated that the project was fully funded by GDOT and that the county would not be financially obligated with the resolution.
She also said that construction for the project would start in the 2023 fiscal year.
In addition, the resolution requests that GDOT get going with construction on the first phase of a project improving Jonesboro Road. Currently, the road is four lanes up past the Town Center shopping center, where it drops down to two lanes. Clemmons said that widening the road up to Chambers Road would provide that heavily-traveled road with some sort of relief.
“If we can four-lane it up to Chambers, that will give us some form of relief,” she said.
Initially, the inclusion of the resolution generated some controversy as the item was put on the agenda at the last minute. Some commissioners wondered if the resolution would require a financial contribution from the county, and if so, why the item wasn’t discussed beforehand, with one commissioner, Gary Barham, having noted that he and Clemmons had spoken the day before and the item hadn’t come up.
Clemmons said she didn’t think the item needed to be discussed — or even voted on — by the board until she was informed by the Georgia Department of Transportation late yesterday that they needed the consensus of the entire Board of Commissioners, not just Clemmons, concerning the Western Parallel Connector and the Jonesboro Road project. Clemmons apologized to Barham for not bringing the topic up, and Barham accepted the apology.
Other commissioners and chairwoman June Wood congratulated Clemmons on her work, noting the importance of the Western Parallel Connector.
“GDOT is telling Henry County we need to get ourselves together,” Wood said.
Wood said GDOT has told Henry County, its cities and other individuals that the county does not have a sound message for improving transportation in the county.