PTC declining to appeal GRTA suit

Thu, 07/26/2007 - 3:04pm
By: John Munford

City Attorney: GRTA can’t force PTC to build TDK, bridge

A judge’s decision that the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority can require Peachtree City to build a four-lane bridge for the extension of TDK Boulevard into Coweta County will likely go unchallenged for now.

Last week, no one on the City Council expressed an interest in appealing the matter now, which could ultimately lead to “case law” being formed against the city’s position that it shouldn’t be required to make the improvements

The issue is basically moot for now anyway as the City Council voted last month to halt the TDK Extension, which was actually required by GRTA as a condition of the development of the Twin Lakes subdivision in Senoia, which has been renamed Heritage Pointe.

The Peachtree City Council discussed the ramifications of the court’s decision in open session at Thursday night’s meeting even though it conceivably could have discussed the matter in closed session since they were getting advice from City Attorney Ted Meeker.

“GRTA cannot make Peachtree City or anybody else build a road,” Meeker said. “What they can do is hold a carrot out in front of you and say if you don’t do this, then for these projects listed over here for which state and federal funding has been slated, we have an ability to say you don’t get that money.”

Earlier this year GRTA officials told The Citizen that such power has never been enacted in the authority’s history.

Meeker pointed out that if the McIntosh Village subdivision were located in Peachtree City, the City Council could vote to override GRTA’s conditions, which officials have said would disallow the agency from withholding future funds.

“Because the DRI is not located in Peachtree City and despite the fact that we have conditions opposed on us for that DRI, Peachtree City in this instance doesn’t have the same override ability that Coweta County has,” Meeker said.

In addition to requiring that the TDK Extension bridge be 60 feet wide for four lanes of traffic, GRTA also is requiring the city to put a traffic light on TDK where it intersects with Dividend Drive.

One significant road project that could be put at risk if GRTA chooses to withhold funding is the widening of the southern leg of Ga. Highway 74 South from Cooper Circle to Ga. Highway 85, which includes several tunnels under the road for the cart path system, noted Councilwoman Judi-ann Rutherford.

“The state is right now so far under in construction monies for transportation, that they might not build it anyway,” Rutherford said.

GRTA has not yet even said whether it would withhold funds from the city, Rutherford added.

The Peachtree City Council isn’t anxious to appeal a judge’s decision that the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority has the power to require Peachtree City to build a four-lane bridge for the extension of TDK Boulevard.

Several council members said Thursday night that they don’t think an appeal would be wise, particularly since the city hasn’t been hurt yet. If the city fails to build the bridge by the time the McIntosh Village subdivision in Coweta County is completed, GRTA could withhold state and federal funding from future transportation projects in Peachtree City.

“The initial reaction was now we ought to appeal it because who are they to tell us what to do,” said Rutherford.

But so far GRTA has not yet withheld any funds, and the widening of Hwy. 74 from Ga. Highway 54 to Cooper Circle is already underway.

“It’s kind of hard for us to claim that we’re injured when there has been no injury yet,” Rutherford added.

Last month council voted to halt work on the TDK Extension project, which became controversial earlier this year when a Coweta developer announced a 3,100 home subdivision that would be built on the Coweta side of the road. Some Peachtree City residents felt the resulting traffic would choke Hwy. 74 during weekday commutes in particular.

Since then the city has received its $200,000 refund from Fayette County, which was going to build the project. The funds had been given by the city to go towards construction for the project.

Coweta officials have been critical of the city’s abandonment of the project, but several have said they look forward to working with the city on transportation issues in the future.

The city was in charge of engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the project.

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