The Stakeholder’s Advisory Committee of the Hinesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization met Tuesday to hear an update on Liberty County’s long-range transportation plans and view the prioritized project list.
Former Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver, area realtor George Holtzman, Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Michelle Ricketson, Liberty Consolidated Planning Commissioners Lynn Pace and Phil Odom and Liberty County School System Transportation Director Chad McCaskill were among those in attendance.
The meeting was called to order by LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson. Rachel Hatcher, planner with RS&H Engineering, then gave a presentation detailing transportation plans for Liberty and “urbanized” Long counties.
According to Ricketson, the transportation plan must project at least 25 years ahead and be updated every five years. The plan that is currently being considered will project through the year 2040.
Hatcher first reviewed projects that were currently under construction or had already completed construction, including the widening of Airport Road and Veterans Parkway. She then gave an overview of three projects that are already funded in the current Transportation Improvement Program.
Phase II of the Veterans Parkway project, the western segment of the Hinesville Bypass project and the Flemington curve signal and realignment project all are funded in the current TIP.
Ricketson said that the Flemington curve signal installation will probably begin in 2016, as it is scheduled for funding in fiscal year 2017.
Hatcher then gave an overview of the 61 projects that have been prioritized through 2040. The projects were divided into three “bands,” which designate the time period in which they will take place. Band 1 projects are slated for 2015-20, band 2 projects are scheduled for 2021-30 and band 3 projects will take place between 2031 and 2040.
Hatcher said that the projects were ranked based on several factors, including dependent projects and other project commitments. Socioeconomic and transportation studies also were conducted to cull data that would help prioritize the projects.
Community surveys also were conducted to receive feedback from area residents. Hatcher said that according to survey results, citizens were most dissatisfied with non-motorized vehicle transportation options, including usable sidewalks.
Renderings for Highway 84 improvements included 10 feet-wide “multi-use” sidewalks, which Hatcher said could be used for non-motorized vehicles such as bicycles as well as pedestrians.
Holtzman pointed out that Hinesville’s current ordinances do not allow bicycles on sidewalks. LCPC Transportation and Planning Engineer Nils Gustavson responded that the city’s ordinances were out of date, and would need to be updated to accommodate the multi-use sidewalks.
Gustavson said that striping could be utilized to designate walking and riding portions of the sidewalks.
Following Hatcher’s presentation, Odom made a motion to approve the plan as presented. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
The plan will next go before the HAMPO Policy Committee for review on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. in the historic courthouse.
The next round of public input meetings will occur in January 2015. The final plan is due Oct. 19, 2015.