DOT, ARC taking comments on long-term transportation plansBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
The Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission are soliciting public comment on changes to long-term transportation plans.
Coweta County is part of the Atlanta Regional Commission “metropolitan planning organization,” and, as such, transportation funding goes through the ARC.
The ARC is currently in the middle of a 30-day public comment period on an amendment to the 2012-2017 Transportation Improvement Plan.
The amendment is necessitated because of metro-Atlanta’s air quality problems. In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Division updated the region’s air quality nonattainment status for ground level ozone. The “marginal” classification under the new standard will apply to 15 counties.
There are some changes to two major Coweta projects under the amendment — the extension of the Highway 34 Bypass southward to Highway 16 East and the widening of the section of Highway 16 from Interstate 85 to U.S. 29.
But the changes won’t really affect the projects.
“They have a proposed ‘network year’ of 2020 rather than 2014,” said Judy Dovers, manager of community engagement for the ARC.
The projects are still set for construction in 2014, Dovers said. “All this amendment really is is to satisfy some changes in federal law for clean air,” she said. The network year is when the projects will be “modeled,” Dovers said.
“We model in network years, not in every year,” she said. “Every few years we’ll do some modeling just to get a sense of the changes in the behavior of the network of roads.”
The ARC’s public comment period ends Oct. 30. To submit comments, or for more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 404-463-3272. You can view the proposed changes at www.atlantaregional.com/transportation.
The changes to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan are more substantive.
GDOT will be presenting the draft STIP for Fiscal Years 2013 to 2016 at public meetings around the region.
“The STIP is a four-year program that specifies federally funded transportation projects for non-urban communities in rural Georgia for fiscal years 2013-2016,” said Kimberly Larson, regional spokeswoman for GDOT. “These projects include new construction, improvements, and maintenance for interstates and state routes, and bridges,” she said. “Additional projects include bicycle and pedestrian projects, transportation enhancement projects, and public transit projects.”
There are four upcoming open houses in the Thomaston District. At the open houses, the public can view the draft STIP, view maps of projects in the local area, discuss projects with GDOT staff and formally offer comments. The plan includes several of Coweta’s neighboring counties.
At the STIP meetings, the general public is invited to view projects planned for Butts, Crawford, Dooly, Harris, Heard, Jones, Lamar, Macon, Marion, Meriwether, Monroe, Peach, Pike, Pulaski, Schley, Spalding, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, and Webster counties.
The first STIP meeting will be held Oct. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the LaGrange Mall. The second meeting will be Nov. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.
A meeting will be held at the Milledgeville Mall on Nov. 5 and at South Georgia Technical College in Americus on Nov. 8.
The draft STIP will also be available at www.dot.ga.gov/stip .
“The department looks forward to working with the public during the development of the Draft FY 13-16 STIP,” Larson said.