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Committee discusses possible impact of new middle school on Three Rivers Drive

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023–1:39 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

The City of Rome has received at least one letter expressing concerns about increased traffic on Three Rivers Drive should a new Rome Middle School be constructed across Veterans Memorial Highway from the current facility.

The cul-de-sac on Three Rivers Drive backs up to Rome City School System property currently being used to park buses.

A number of representatives from businesses on Three Rivers Drive, mostly medical practices, spoke during Wednesday’s Public Works and Transit Committee meeting.  They wanted to know the impact the school would have on traffic, noting that patient appointment times often coincide with the start of the school day and when classes are letting out.  Another concern is the intersection of Three Rivers and Veteran’s Memorial Highway and how much it would be backed up during those peak times.

The Rome City School System is asking the Rome City Commission to back $103 million in bonds to fund the $119 million dollar project. Those bonds would be paid back over the next 20 years, using funds generated by an extra penny tax sales for education.

Although there have been options put forward to renovate and upgrade the existing middle school instead of building a new one, Commissioner Mark Cochran, who chairs the committee, said that there is a 95% chance a new facility will be constructed at the proposed new location.

“Obviously, it’s going to be super important to us that they [Rome City Schools] show us, wherever the school goes, that they are going to allocate as much linear footage inside their parking lot to cue up parents and school buses past the cul-de-sac, so it won’t bog down Three Rivers Drive,” he said.

The property just beyond the cul-de-sac, currently being used to park school buses, would be part of the new middle school campus.

There had previously been discussions about petitioning the Georgia Department of Transportation for a “right-in, right-out” for the new school, but given it’s a limited access road, there is no guarantee. Cochran also feels that it would still not totally address the issue of traffic having to go down Three Rivers Drive.

Rome City Manager said that there is an 80-foot right-of-way so, theoretically, the road could be expanded. However, it would be expensive, and according to Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins, ELOST money cannot be used for road projects.

Rich told those at the meeting, that they will be kept informed.

“We’ll be talking about it for sure,” he said. “These discussions will be ongoing. I’m sure there will be coverage and other meetings.”

There are plans to have a called Rome City Commission meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the Rome Middle School project.