Tom K. Perdue, a consultant for the Rollins family, presented a detailed argument for revising the selected route. The new 6.34-mile highway would traverse the family’s 1,800-acre Cartersville ranch to link U.S. 411 from Rome to Interstate 75.
“I’m not here to try to get anyone to agree on something. I’m just trying to start a discussion. … We’re trying to stop a route, not a road,” Perdue said.
Rome City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter and several Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce members unsuccessfully sought to have the presentation deferred to a date when a representative from the Georgia Department of Transportation could attend.
Wachsteter told Tea Party Chairwoman Diane Coker and organizer Mike Morton that it was unfair to offer a professional opponent’s view without a counterpoint from a professional who selected the route.
But Coker said attempts to line up a supporter fell through and a GDOT engineer would be invited to a future gathering.
“It’s been 30 years and we’re still waiting on that Connector, so we’ve still got time to hear from — if you want to put it that way — the other side,” she said.
The audience appeared evenly divided during the question-and-answer period, with a number of speakers suggesting a new road may not be needed at all.
Chamber member Ansley Saville was one of several, however, who said industries look for routes that don’t force their delivery tractor-trailers into gas-burning starts and stops.
“The bottom line here is jobs,” she said. “They might as well be throwing dollar bills out the window every time they gear down.”
An in-depth report about the pros and cons of the selected route will appear in Sunday’s Rome News-Tribune.