Transportation plan deals with the reality of funding

September 21, 2012 

The Eisenhower Parkway Extension to Interstate 16, and related projects “Have absolutely no chance of ever being constructed.”

-- 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan

Finally, someone recognized a fact most around these parts have known for more than a decade. It’s all part of the draft of the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. There have always been too many factors stacked against the plan to cross over sacred Native American lands, build a bridge over the Ocmulgee River, and oh, it’s a swamp; all at a cost of $283 million.

Each person can decide for themselves whether such a connection between the west and east sides of town is needed. Obviously, a few generations of local leaders have thought so and tried to get the project off the snide. Numerous trips were taken to Oklahoma in attempts to get the blessing of the Muscogee Creek Indians to no avail. But there are some projects that may get sent to the scrap heap because of the lack of money that we really need. The scope of the defeat of the T-SPLOST is starting to hit home and the reality that state and federal monies will not come riding to the rescue.

The Northwest Parkway that would have better connected Log Cabin Drive and Mercer University Drive is on the chopping block of the proposed plan. “Susan Hanberry-Martin, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, said the Northwest Parkway has “zero merit,” And that many of the projects included in the T-SPLOST were badly conceived. She may be right, however, we would have loved to see the elimination of the suicide lane on Vineville Avenue.

Of the proposed project cuts, there is one that shouts, “Build me now or you’ll have to build me later,” and that’s the widening of Bass Road. It’s hard to believe that project might have to wait until beyond 2040. That could stifle growth in the area, something we certainly don’t need for our local economy. Unfortunately, when there is no money, there is no money, and the projects associated with the I-75 and I-16 interchange pretty much sucks all the air out of the room. Even so, there are no guarantees that even that project will be funded.

With the financial constraints on all areas of government, it’s hard to see a path to planning for our transportation future. That lack of ongoing projects could lead to gridlock long before 2040 arrives.

-- The Editorial Board

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