GDOT public review session set for Thursday
by Matt Shinall
Aug 25, 2010 | 2129 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A public forum will be held in Bartow County Thursday to review federally funded projects of the Georgia Department of Transportation. The public is invited to learn about planned projects and comment on their development.

Two meetings will be held throughout the district this week, one of them in Cartersville Thursday night; the other being held tonight at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce from 5 to 7 p.m. A list of projects known as the State Transportation Improvement Program containing all projects utilizing federal funds in the next four fiscal years will be the basis of discussion at both meetings.

"In order to receive federal transportation project funds, the Georgia Department of Transportation produces the STIP, which is the State Transportation Improvement Program, annually," said Mohammed Arafa, GDOT communications specialist. "The STIP includes highway, bridge, bicycle, pedestrian, safety, transportation enhancement activities and public transit projects.

"It is a document to provide all citizens and interested stakeholders -- provide them with the opportunity to review and comment on the state transportation priorities for four years."

Experts will be on hand to discuss details of the projects with citizens. The list contains about 20 Bartow County projects planned for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 as well as hundreds of others for Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Pickens, Polk, and Walker counties. According to a press release, projects for Cherokee, Floyd, Paulding and Whitfield counties in this region that are part of a Metropolitan Planning Organization, areas with more than 50,000 in population, will be available for public comment in a separate meeting, at a later date.

"It's important that the public be made aware of how we're planning to spend federal funds and that's what the STIP does, it's a list of projects that we'll be spending federal funds on during the next four fiscal years. So as a part of the federal process we're required to take this information to the public and allow them to review it and make comments," said Greg Hood, district 6 planning and programming engineer.

Comments received from public forum have influenced projects in the past, Hood said. Critiques have not only been effective in altering planned projects but also in bringing to light projects that have led to needed improvements.

"There have been many cases where the public's input has led to projects or changes in projects," Hood said. "People can come and review the STIP and if they have a project that they would like to see done that's not included already, they can comment about that project and we will actually do studies to see if the project is warranted."

The STIP draft can be viewed online through the GDOT website, Included on the STIP is the hotly debated 411 Connector as well as several other projects of public concern, such as bicycle and pedestrian pathways, interchange improvements and road widening projects.

"We strongly believe that these projects are intended to serve the people in Bartow County. Their ideas, preferences and even concerns are important and can make a difference in the planning process ... and that's why we solicit their input," Arafa said.

Public review of the STIP draft will be held Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the GDOT District 6 conference room at 500 Joe Frank Harris Parkway, Cartersville, just south of the U.S. 41 Etowah River bridge.