Summer break is drawing to a close and it is hard to believe school is around the corner.
While legislators returned home in late March, our legislative work continues. Here’s a brief update on some of the post-session happenings so far:
Many of you know my commitment to improving cell and broadband service in our communities. I’m excited about certain new broadband technologies, including the soon-to-come “air-gig” technology which will utilize existing power poles and the electricity those poles emit to provide the “last mile” of service to residents and businesses. Until field tests on that technology can be completed, we must use every other tool in our tool box to provide fast, reliable broadband service to our citizens today. Fixed wireless service can be a solution in some areas. By the end of this year, rural areas of Appling, Toombs and Wayne counties will see a total of 16 new installations devoted to this technology. The range of fixed wireless facilities is limited, but this is one more option for reaching rural homes and businesses in our community.
While broadband is great, we can’t forget about basic cell phone service — it is sad that we have areas on U.S. highways where we cannot make an emergency call. Wheeler County is particularly troublesome. Some of those dead spots should be alleviated this year with at least one new tower in this area. Thank you to the Wheeler County commissioners who were instrumental in this project.
Transportation projects have moved swiftly as well; Wayne County has seen the most significant changes with the overpass on Hwy 169. Jeff Davis County has begun a test project for roundabout traffic control in a school area. Upcoming projects in Treutlen and Toombs Counties are likely as well. I predict the four-laning of U.S. Highway 1 will be the most significant economic impact to our area since the four-laning of U.S. Highway 341.
The local economy is also showing strong signs as well. Real estate transactions have picked up significantly in most areas of District 19. This is generally a sign of increased economic activity. Our workforce, however, must be ready when the jobs this increased economic activity brings arrive.
Not all news, however, is good. The number of students graduating from Georgia high schools is leveling off. This will likely correlate into a leveling off of university and technical college enrollment. When those changes occur, hard decisions must be made as stewards of taxpayer dollars to keep Georgia competitive. It would be imprudent to not recognize these trends and prepare accordingly.
I’ve had several calls about new turn signals in our area. Citizens feel these turn lights never turn green. The light receiving the most calls is on U.S. Highway 280 in front of Meadows Regional Medical Center. Most of us are used to seeing a turn arrow at the beginning of a green light cycle. The green arrow on these new turn signals only activates when a vehicle remains behind an intersection’s white stop bar at the end of the green light cycle. Georgia Department of Transportation studies show the time wasted when only one car turns during a green turn arrow significantly impedes the flow of traffic. By moving the green turn light to the end of the cycle, when oncoming traffic is light enough to allow all turning cars the opportunity to pass, no time is wasted on a green turn arrow. If traffic is so heavy that even one car remains behind the stop bar the entire green light cycle, the turn arrow will activate and allow that car and any others waiting to pass. The gist is if you don’t pull out into the intersection and cannot make a left turn during the green light cycle, a turn arrow will come on for you at the end of the oncoming traffic’s green light cycle. As with all changes, these will take some getting used to, but I hope they serve as an illustration of the constant thought process GDOT employees place into moving you, your families and products more efficiently across our state.
I know I join with many of you in a special prayer for our educators and students in this coming school year. They hold our hearts and they hold our future. If I can be of assistance to you during this off-session season, you’ll find me practicing law in Vidalia. To reach me there call 912-537-3030, or call my cell at 912-245-9915. Thank you, again, for allowing me to serve you in the Georgia Senate. Don’t forget to vote Tuesday.
Tillery represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Long County and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. Email him at email@example.com.