Liberty County residents are encouraged to take part in a transportation survey conducted by the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission.
The community’s input is needed to help guide transportation investments during the next 25 years, according to LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson. He said the “Forward 40: Progress through Planning 2040 Transportation Survey” allows residents to provide feedback for the development of long-range transportation plans.
“The survey will be used to put together our long-range transportation plans,” Ricketson said. “It is something required by the Georgia Department of Transportation every five years. So far, about 125 people have taken part in the survey. Our goal is to get at least 500 people to participate.”
The greater the number of participants, the greater the probability of an accurate representation of the entire community, the director said. The survey community includes Liberty and Long counties as well as Fort Stewart. Ricketson said the Hinesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization also is conducting land-use planning studies for Liberty County and the urbanized areas of Long County.
He said the biggest concerns of most survey respondents are the traffic congestion on Highway 84 and heavy truck traffic. Many of the major concerns reflected so far could have been addressed if the 2012 transportation special local option sales tax had passed, Ricketson said.
He said communities receive funds from Georgia DOT through state and federal government gas taxes, but it isn’t enough for the transportation projects necessary to alleviate traffic congestion on Highway 84. A bypass was planned to fix the congestion and truck-traffic problem, according to Ricketson. He added that an alternate route bypass still is in the planning stages but without TSPLOST funding, construction and completion will be delayed.
Another concern of survey respondents is the Liberty Transit system. Ricketson noted that Hinesville cut back on transit services and routes last year, but he said the LCPC is looking into ways to expand the routes to be more accommodating.
“Our current plan takes us up to 2035,” Ricketson said. “Some of the transportation projects that are on that plan have already gotten started, or they’re about to get under way.”
He said the widening of Veterans Parkway was delayed by the federal government’s sequestration cuts. Hinesville leaders decided to divide that project between the work necessary from E.G. Miles Parkway to the gate at Fort Stewart from the work necessary beyond the gate. Work on the civilian side began with land clearing and moving utility lines. Actual construction should begin in March, Ricketson said. He added that the military side probably will end up being completed about a year behind the civilian side.
The director said that what some people think is road construction on Airport Road is simply land owners clearing and selling timber along Airport Road and 15th Street. He said, however, construction is due to begin soon to widen the access road for Fort Stewart truck traffic.
“(The survey) helps us a lot,” he said. “Each individual in the community is an expert in what’s going on where they live. They can let us know where the problem areas are, and a lot of these problems may have a simple fix. ... We know that rush-hour traffic will remain problematic wherever the largest employer releases most of its employees at the same time each afternoon.”
After referencing the largest employer — Fort Stewart — Ricketson said the community’s transportation system is going through a test. He said this is the first time in a long time that all of Fort Stewart’s troops have been a home. Community leaders and planners are getting to see what full Fort Stewart population does to traffic.
For more information about Forward 40, go to www.thelcpc.org/2040-Irtp or call 408-2030. To complete the 2040 Transportation Survey, go to http://thelcpc.org/survey.