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Georgia DOT wants your input

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

September 8, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Southwest Georgia's economy is struggling even more than the state and the nation. That's one of the findings of an ongoing study by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Changes to transportation in the region could help improve the economy. A big possibility would connect Albany with the interstate system. That interstate system is just one of the focuses of the Southwest Georgia Interstate Study. The study aims to improve Southwest Georgia's access to I-185, I-75 and I-10 but the road to those changes will be a long one and will take lots of planning.  

The travel center at Highway 300 and Clarke Avenue in Albany is one of the busiest traffic areas in Southwest Georgia. Drivers can head in two directions. "Atlanta, Florida," said driver Otis Davis.

Davis is from Albany and just wishes those trips could be a little easier from here. "In a way it's a little hassle because it's a little slower. I like speed a little bit," said Davis. Speed is just one of the many focuses in a series of transportation meetings in Southwest Georgia.

An interstate study began last Fall to identify the transportation needs in this region. "How well this region including Albany and every part of Southwest Georgia connects to all the interstates including I-75," said Tom McQueen, Branch Chief of GDOT's Office of Planning.

The study is now in Phase 2. So far, much information has been gathered on everything from employment to population in Southwest Georgia. By the year 2040, it's projected that both will make a significant jump.

"Transportation is of the utmost importance to a region like Albany," said Albany Mayor Willie Adams. Adams says transportation-wise, the city needs to be prepared for the future with some major projects.

"Certainly we'd like to see I-185 come through here from Columbus going down to Florida," said Adams. Adams is also pro-rail. The city of Albany is considering an inter-modal transportation hub to handle both buses and trains. He'd love for a rail system to come through the city.

"Our job is to make sure that our politicians and representatives come aboard and we fight for Albany," said Adams. Sheets full of suggestions from South Georgians were recorded at a meeting Monday night. People suggested the state look at widening roads, making a better roadway connection between Georgia military bases and even having more of a consistent speed on routes like Georgia 300. That's good news for Davis.

"Slowing down, speeding up, slowing down then speeding up just burns too much gas, especially on big trucks like these," said Davis.

Only time will tell what changes are made and just how soon.

The study is looking at everything big and small--even how long traffic lights stay red or how often they blink on some state routes. But there could be things the study overlooked.  That's why the DOT wants input.

Several more meetings are scheduled before final recommendations are given to the state transportation board. Another meeting will be held in Thomasville on Tuesday.  The meeting starts at 5 p.m. at SW Georgia Technical College.  On September 15th , a meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at Early County High School in Blakely.  

You can link to the study at www.swgainterstate.com  A final report should be complete by May.

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