Henry County’s five-year, $365 million Capital Improvement Plan includes $50 million for roads. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Henry adding another $50 million to improve roads as population grows

Henry residents struggling with increasingly congested roads because of the county’s rapid growth will soon get some relief.

The county recently approved a five-year, $365 million Capital Improvement Plan in which Henry will borrow money against its AAA bond rating to pay for more courthouse space, a convention center, a morgue and upgraded technology.

But for some leaders the biggest benefit will be the $50 million allocated in the plan for infrastructure — road widenings, pothole repair and streetlights.

As the county has almost doubled in population over the last decade, it has been slow to provide the supply of new roads and infrastructure to match the demand from motorists.

“We need to stop reacting and be proactive and have a plan moving forward,” Assistant County Manager Brad Johnson told Henry Commissioners at a recent meeting.

Henry is metro Atlanta’s second fastest-growing community behind Forsyth County, adding 5,800 new residents between April 2017 and April 2018, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission. That was a 2.5 percent increase over the April 2017 population of 229,000, the ARC said.

The county also has struggled with overwhelming truck traffic as Henry has welcomed dozens of million-square-foot warehouses and distribution centers, including Home Depot, Wayfair, Tory Burch and Luxottica. Traffic is especially choked around roads leading to Interstate 75, including busy Ga. 155.

Approval of the funding wasn’t unanimous.

Commission Chairwoman June Wood and Commissioner Johnny Wilson supported the $50 million for infrastructure, but opposed the CIP because it included $90 million for a convention center, which neither saw as a county priority.

“We got so many other needs that need to be addressed,” Wood said.

The need for funding has been exacerbated by potholes that have popped up all over the county because of above-average rain this winter, leaders said. Residents have flooded commissioners with pleas for solutions.

“My recommendation is that we try to do everything we can to improve our infrastructure and put things in place that are going to serve our citizens,” Commissioner Bruce Holmes said.

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