Repaving meeting low in attendance

It was a quiet and empty meeting at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department Auditorium on Tuesday, March 16.

The Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study, also known as MACORTS, held its public information meeting for local citizens to review and comment upon the addition of the Jobs for Main Street Act Amendment to the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).

The TIP includes all of the projects that will receive federal funding during the next four fiscal years. The document is updated annually to reflect changes that occur to projects.

The latest project added to the Transportation Improvement Plan is to resurface US 441/SR 15 from SR Loop 10 to about 0.2 miles south of CR 478/Newton Bridge Road.

Sherry Moore, transportation planner for MACORTS, and Iris Cleveland, associate transportation planner, were available to answer questions at the casual two-hour meeting.

Moore explained that the meeting was an open forum. There was not a formal presentation planned, only tables set up displaying posters of the resurfacing project, documents detailing the plan, and sheets for the public to provide their input.

A number of factors explain why the meeting had low attendance.

Moore explains that more people are sending questions and comments through e-mail rather than taking out the time to attend a meeting. She has seen a decrease in public attendance in the past five years.

This specific project has received little public feedback.

Also, the nature of the project, which is only to repave a stretch of US 441, will have minimal effects on its surroundings.

Although this part of the US 441 is busy, the project will not be difficult. Moore said it would be different if it was a road-widening project.

Local citizens usually start calling the department after construction has started.

“People are generally not plugged into the planning side,” Moore said. “They don’t say something until the bulldozers are in their face.”

She adds that the commute will be bumpy for a few months and will be surprising for some people at first.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) chose this project, along with many others across the state to complete. However, completion is only possible if federal funds become available for use. The project has 90 days to get into contract.

However, when and if the project will take place depends on whether the Jobs for Main Street Act becomes law. The bill has passed in the House, but not in the Senate.

The bill will provide states an estimated $75 billion to generate jobs with targeted investments for transit and other important factors that will help the economy grow.

MACORTS, which only uses federal funds, hopes to use the money from this bill to complete the project. The estimated cost of the project is $2,291,000.

If the bill does not pass, there will be another meeting to announce that the amendment is being taken out of the TIP. The project will then go back to the state level as something that will be completed later. 

The Georgia DOT chose this project to complete because of its quick and easy nature. This project will take less than six months to complete.

Citizens can continue to send their questions and comments via email to macorts@co.clarke.ga.us until April 09, 2010. A copy of the draft is also available for review at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.

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