I am pleased to let you know that the Valdosta Urbanized Area
Transit Implementation Study is well under development and it is
time to share the draft recommendations with you and with the
community. With your help, we reached over 500 members of the
community through our online survey this Spring! The input has been
very helpful in the development of the study and in fine-tuning our
Pilot Shuttle Program which just received additional funding to
operate through September of this year.
We will hold a Transit Implementation Study Open House from noon to
7pm on Tuesday, June 28 at the Lowndes County Judicial and
Administrative Complex, 327 N. Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 31601. We
look forward to Continue reading →
The Suwannee Valley Transit Authority’s Live Oak bus route will
begin operating on Monday, July 20, running continuously from 7 a.m.
until 7 p.m. throughout every direction of the city, Monday through
Friday. The route’s unofficial stops include apartment complexes and
other residential neighborhoods, public schools, grocery stores,
parks, government offices, nursing homes, the library and the
The county asked SGRC a bunch of questions about the $15,957 public transit and trucking studies at yesterday morning’s Work Session that
they didn’t ask about the $16,915 they spent
two weeks ago to upgrade a water main to subsize a developer.
Commissioners seemed to think VLMPO hadn’t involved them in planning
the study proposals, when in fact their own Chairman and County Manager
and Engineer had been involved all along, plus five county-appointed
County Manager Joe Pritchard said Commissioner Joyce Evans and
Chairman Bill Slaughter had asked him to get the Southern Georgia Regional
Commission (SGRC) to explain its proposed transportation studies.
He also introduced Lisa Crib, whom he said was the new SGRC Executive Director.
Corey Hull spoke for SGRC, saying he first wanted to know their questions.
Chairman Bill Slaughter asked: Continue reading →
“We have broadband”, said Bill Slaughter, while other people had
different opinions on that and other topics Wednesday night at
the Mildred Hunter Community Center.
Corey Hull introduced the session and a small but vocal group of citizens
the main topic headings.
He noted that there are more than twelve plans already in place
in the various cities and counties in the Valdosta Lowndes Metropolitan
Yet there were many common themes in those plans, and VLMPO was looking
for other common areas in these meetings and online,
and more specifically strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
If you have a community group of any size, VLMPO can come talk to it.
They’ve been to the Chamber, to Rotary, to churches, etc.
They expect to wrap this process up in December,
with common vision and goals for the next ten or twenty years.
Local officials present included Matt Martin,
Planning and Zoning Administrator for the City of Valdosta,
and Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter.
Martin didn’t say much, but Bill Slaughter was quite vocal.
I thanked him for speaking up, even though I didn’t agree with everything he said.
He helped clarify current county codes for stormwater retention,
and Martin helped clarify the city’s codes.
As a long-time participant in
local development (he’s CEO of Waller Heating and Air)
Slaughter said when people are buying houses all they look at is Continue reading →
What do you the citizens want Lowndes County to be?
Here’s a chance to speak up, so when somebody asks where were you when
the decisions were being made, you don’t have to answer “lying on the couch
watching television.” (Thanks to Nolen Cox for that phrase.)
My office is conducting a survey and gathering public input on
Facebook (go to
www.facebook.com/valdostalowndesmpo) about what they
want the Lowndes County Common Community Vision to be
www.bit.ly/LowndesCCV). So far our participation has been low. I am
calling on all of you to encourage your friends, family and
colleagues to spread the word and let us know what you think about
the future of Lowndes County and its cities.
Over the next two months there will be future opportunities for
public input so stay tuned.
Received 1 June 2012 about the
22 May 2012 VLMPO Open House at SGRC.
The “Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, is the short-range
plan approved by the VLMPO Policy Committee that allows federal funds
to be spent on various transportation projects in the region.”
I attended the transportation plan open house on the day that anyone could
come from early morning until 7:00 PM and when I went at 5, I was only the
sixth person who had been there all day. Corey Hull showed me and four
other people the plan, answered our questions, explained the difference
between this long term plan and the TSPLOST and there was a discussion about
how one might go about becoming a bus services provider in the area. The
amount of money allocated to the city of Valdosta for transportation is not
an amount that is near what a bus system would cost, so there still will
have to be other funds available to make that possible. Even though our
group brought the attendance for the day up to 10 citizens, it was a huge
improvement over the last open house, when NO ONE showed. Corey Hull was
very helpful and had a lot of information that probably would have been
fascinating to others if they had attended, but once again there was
virtually no input.
-Jane F. Osborn, MSSW
projects submitted for T-SPLOST,
a bus system would cost about $7.5 million (startup and a few years run-time),
but that got cut first pass, while $12 million for widening one road
is still in the T-SPLOST list.
I’m told that public transportation is not an issue around here.
If people think it is, maybe they should show up at meetings
like the one SGRC organized about the other transportation plan
and say they want a bus system.
And finally, beware! Most of the discussion in these videos is about specific lists of non-discretionary projects. There’s also 25% of the T-SPLOST money that could be spent on discretionary projects, which are already being specified by the local governments,
and which may include many of the same projects that were on the original unconstrained project list but got bumped off the constrained list.
Videos T-SPLOST Public Meeting, Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), Corey Hull, Travis Harper, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 September 2011. Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
Larry Hanson, Valdosta City Manager, asked for the regional council to reconsider aviation projects, especially considering that the tax was supposed to be for projects of regional significance. Then he pointed out
Out of that $503 million about 40% of it or $212 million is projected to be generated here in Lowndes County. And when you look at what's being returned, for instance to the city of Valdosta, it's $47 million. It is certainly one thing to be a donor, but that's a pretty substantial donor.
He said he appreciated all the other counties, but much of the money would go to counties that are not contiguous to Lowndes County and are not part of the Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes the four counties of Lowndes, Brooks, Lanier, and Echols. He continued:
Lowndes County is about 26% of the region's population and we generate about 38% of the revenue, and we're not quite getting that back in terms of the distribution.
You may wonder why a City of Valdosta official was speaking for Lowndes County. County Manager Joe Pritchard was there at the start of the meeting, and I think County Engineer Mike Fletcher was, as well. County Chairman Ashley Paulk came in late and summoned Pritchard and Fletcher outside the glass doors of the meeting room. They stood there for quite some time, peering in, and then vanished.
Aviation Projects, and Valdosta is a substantial donor –Larry Hanson @ T-SPLOST 2011-09-19 T-SPLOST Public Meeting, Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), Corey Hull, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 September 2011. Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).
I asked why the Old US 41 North widening project changed from $8 million on the unconstrained list to $12 million on the constrained list, an increase of $4 million or 50% when the description did not change?
The answer indicates GDOT and local governments want to drive development north in the county, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists stranded yet having to pay.
Corey Hull responded:
Halfway through we received new cost estimates….
GDOT did the cost estimates, in cooperation with the local government that was responsible for that.
A state employee told me after the meeting that GDOT raised some estimates because it thought the local government, in this case the Lowndes County Commission and staff, didn’t put in enough to cover the project. I don’t know whether GDOT was figuring by Atlanta costs or not…. At least the cost didn’t go up further in the final project list; I just checked and it’s still $12 million.
Corey elaborated that some projects increased and some decreased. I asked him which ones did which. He said he’d have to go back and compare. Later he helped me produce a list of comparisons of costs of Lowndes County projects, which shows that one went down by 30% and three went up by 50% or more. One, RC11-000099 St. Augustine at Norman Intersection Improvements, went up by 131.5%.
You could probably even start up a substantial commuter rail system using existing freight line tracks for less than $12 million. Even though GDOT apparently only believes in roads and bridges, busses and trains are actually more cost-effective, especially for lower-income people. The same lower-income people who will be disproportionately taxed by T-SPLOST as a percentage of their income.
Instead, the description for the Old US 41 North project admits the county is driving
Continue reading →
Gasoline tax? —Roy Taylor T-SPLOST Public Meeting, Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), Corey Hull, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 September 2011. Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).