Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WAGA: Perdue took keen interest in Houston County road

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Ah, road drama and politics. So Peach State.

Last night, WAGA's Dale Russell rolled out the first segment of his story about Gov. Sonny Perdue's personal involvement in a $100-million road project in Houston County that would abut several pieces of his property — and in the process, make the land more valuable. According to Russell's investigation, the governor weighed in on the once-stalled widening of Ga. 96, a two-lane road which runs east to west through the middle portion of the Peach State that includes his hometown. Georgia Department of Transportation documents obtained by Russell suggest Perdue leaned on engineers to favor a certain design that would edge his property. Former GDOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl, who served during Perdue's term, told the AJC after the story aired that a Perdue staffer "pointed out land that Perdue owned along the road," but didn't request he move the road.

Bert Brantley, a Perdue spokesman, told Russell in an email that the governor took an interest in the project because it was a top priority for his home county. He also told the AJC that the new design would also result in a safer road.  And in comments to Insider Advantage's Dick Pettys — comments which are unfortunately behind a paywall — Brantley said the governor acted like any other citizen: "[H]e looked at the project maps and supported the design that provided the best traffic flow and was least disruptive to downtown Bonaire and [a nearby] middle school."

Could be. But it's kind of different when the "citizen" offering input about a proposed road is, you know, the chief executive of the state. And as Pettys states in his article, it seems that questionable land deals — Oaky Woods, anyone? — are going to dog the governor until he leaves office in January. The second and final segment of Russell's story airs tonight at 6 p.m.

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