SPLOST funded Project DeRenne aims to improve traffic flow - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SPLOST 6: $11.8M to fund Project DeRenne

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Now that the board of elections has signed off on the special purpose local option sales tax election, the city of Savannah will formally approve the projects they've identified to receive SPLOST money.

At the top of the list is more than $100 million for the arena. The next largest sum of money; however, will be set aside to improve traffic conditions along DeRenne Avenue where Interstate 516 ends.

The city of Savannah has been working on the congestion problem for years, through Project DeRenne.

"Most people are trying to get to point south, but our good neighbor Hunter has a big swath of land, so getting south becomes difficult and DeRenne is the only avenue to points south or to points east," said Heather Fish, the city's lead technician on the project.

Fish said most people are trying to get to White Bluff Road and the south side. The most recent designs for Project DeRenne will establish an entire new path for these drivers.

"The genesis of the improvement is to split that traffic, is to take those commuters as they come in on 516 and put them right where they one to be which is on White Bluff and not have to cross through Montgomery Street and not have to go up to White Bluff, " Fish said.

Hunter Army Air Field has agreed to let the city use a corner of its land to create this new road, which will bypass DeRenne and connect directly to White Bluff. Drivers will use an overpass to get on to 516 westbound and use a new ramp to exist 516 eastbound.

The project will also create a brand-new entrance for Hunter for those exiting 516 east.  

"You get kind of a cascading effect," said Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Clarence Bowman. "You fix the problem there, at. DeRenne, you're going to see a better impact on the traffic patterns throughout the city of Savannah. It's a win for the city, but it's also a win for Hunter Army Air Field."

The project also addresses street level improvements to DeRenne. The voters approved money for the project in SPLOST 5. The money in SPLOST 6; however, will allow the city to start on right of way acquisitions and to turn a three phase project into one.

"This $11.5 million will allow us to do all three at one time and not have to break it up into a phase one phase two or a phase three," Fish said.

The entire project is estimated at more than $80 million, and the city is working on getting the local match for the federal funds. The actual start of construction could be more than 10 years away.

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