Hinesville leaders conducted a first-ever “windshield tour” of city streets and sidewalks Monday afternoon.
Mayor Jim Thomas said the leaders were using the tour to refresh their memories about previously identified capital-improvement projects to determine whether to add to or re-prioritize existing projects.
He reminded the leaders that if the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum is approved in November, the city’s allocation for road improvements would be about $6.5 million over six years.
Also attending the tour were City Manager Billy Edwards; Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier; City Councilmen David Anderson, Keith Jenkins and Jason Floyd; City Engineer Paul Simonton; Public Works Director Guan Ellis; and Bobby Ryon and Mike Davis of CH2MHill/OMI.
The leaders worked from a list of 29 previously prioritized projects and used city maps and a spreadsheet on a laptop that listed what needed to be done at each street, whether it was resurfacing, paving, curbs and gutters or sidewalks. Curb and gutters were No. 1 on the list, as well as sidewalks along Main Street.
Lighting on Veterans Parkway was at the bottom of the list. Since construction for widening that street already has begun, the leaders chose not to look there.
As the 15-passenger van slowly moved down the streets, Simonton read from the spreadsheet what needed to be done for a particular road project. When they drove through one neighborhood, Thomas commented that the sidewalk was on only one side of the street. Simonton said the decision to go with one side was for cost savings and because some residents didn’t want a sidewalk.
Frasier suggested removing one project from the list because construction had been scheduled to begin, but residents opposed to the project stopped it.
“When they re-aligned Memorial Drive, they didn’t put the sidewalks back in on Pafford Street,” Frasier said as the van pulled to a stop at the intersection of Pafford Street and West Gen. Screven Way. “Can we still ask them to do that?”
Edwards, who drove, said he didn’t see why they couldn’t, agreeing with Frasier’s suggestion.
As they crossed Screven and turned onto Madison Street, all leaders noted that Madison and Pafford are not aligned for a safe, direct crossing of Screven. The same was noted for Welborn and Azalea streets at Screven.
“Azalea and Welborn approach Screven at an angle,” Simonton said. “The three roads coming together like that create dangerous road conditions … This (problem) has been on the table for a long time.”
He said several solutions have been offered to re-route traffic or re-align the streets, to include “dead-ending” Welborn with a cul-de-sac.
Thomas interjected that when the new Liberty campus for Armstrong State University is completed, traffic will need to be re-routed at Welborn and Rebecca streets.
Drainage was mentioned as a serious issue in many road projects. However, councilmembers representing districts where drainage issues have been a problem said they’re getting fewer complaints.
Simonton believes that several “little things” they had been doing in road repairs and downtown development have helped the city with overall drainage problems.
At the tour’s conclusion, Thomas said the council will discuss what they saw and the notes they’d taken during this week’s meeting, and then set a date when they could sit down and re-prioritize the capital-improvement projects list.