Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Keith Goldens Your Say column in The Telegraph in which he tried to defend GDOTs actions at a recent Bibb County Commission committee meeting was arbitrary and disingenuous. To use GDOTs inclusion of Forest Hill Road at the meeting to justify their position on Jeffersonville Road was typical of GDOTs sledgehammer tactics.
In Bibb County, GDOT has never been known to engage in a serious public participation process; instead we have been given pro forma meetings which ostensibly meet the letter of the law, but their modus operandi of Design and Defend leaves the public wondering whatever happened to their concerned comments and suggestions.
Commissioner Golden says that part of his job is to be a responsible steward of the taxpayer money entrusted to us. I sincerely hope Commissioner Golden takes a look at the recently released GDOT Connect Central Georgia study which states that the I-16/I-75 project will cost 11 times the benefits it provides to Georgians.
The interchange needs improvement, but 14 lanes at a cost sure to approach astronomical in tomorrows construction dollars? Not very responsible. Another local example of GDOTs mismanagement is the Forest Hill Road Project, which flies in the face of modern urban, context sensitive design and has been controversial since its inception.
At great personal expense, a local citizen has filed a lawsuit against GDOT to protect the FHR neighborhood from GDOTs highway mentality. Both of these are typical Design and Defend GDOT projects.
Commissioner Goldens statement that GDOT has professional, positive working relationships with virtually all of the states hundreds of communities is perplexing. Perhaps Commissioner Golden should read an article from the Oct. 7, Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Atlanta Forward: GDOTs next project: Build Public Trust which was written by Jay Shaw, the newly elected chairman of the Georgia Transportation Board.
Chairman Shaw states the following, The TIA vote last summer opened our eyes to a deep disconnect between the department and its constituents. We learned the transportation board and the department must convince legislators, local elected officials and the public that we are good partners, trustworthy stewards of their money, and that they really would get something worthwhile in return for any new transportation investment ... We first must prove to our many audiences that every decision we make and every dollar we spend is in their collective best interest. Do that and everything else will take care of itself. Thats why keeping Georgia DOT consumer-friendly is my job one.
Commissioner Goldens statements remind me once again just how capricious are GDOTs actions and how far out of touch they are with their constituency and the taxpayers who pay their salaries.
Lee Martin is a resident of Macon and a long-time opponent to the Forest Hill Road project.