Members of the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce learned a little of what is going on in the Georgia Department of Transportation when Georgia’s 1st Congressional District State Transportation Board Member Ann Purcell paid the group a visit May 8.
Purcell, a former state representative and native of Glennville, won the seat on the board back in February. She told the group she was pleased to be able to represent this region of Georgia on the GDOT state transportation board.
“I am glad to be your spokesperson on the DOT board for the state of Georgia and I’m glad to represent the first congressional district which entails 15 whole counties and two split counties,” Purcell told the group. “So we have a large district and we have a lot of needs down here and our needs are no different from any of the other 13 congressional districts because their needs are important too.”
Purcell informed the group of alternatives the DOT is working on for regions of the state that did not pass the TIA—or Transportation Investment Act.
“We tried but we just didn’t sell it well enough and maybe some of that was because of mistrust in our transportation department, maybe that was because citizens didn’t understand exactly what was going on,” Purcell said. “But let me tell you one thing, we did miss a good opportunity by not passing the TIA, but we’ve got to accept that and we’ve got to move forward.”
While there is no real “Plan B,” she said, the state is looking at several options for projects to ease traffic congestion when it comes to getting the “biggest bang for the dollar.”
One option is a diamond interchange. Another option is using roundabouts in the coastal region.
“Go down here on the coast to Jekyll Island, they have a roundabout and it works greatly,” she said. “We’re looking at roundabouts in areas of this region right now to see what the potential would be to put a roundabout—it is a way to keep that traffic flowing that’s what we’ve got to do—keep it on the move.”
She also noted that GDOT is doing more with less.
“In 1972, our department employed approximately 9,000 employees and we had about 35,000 miles of state roads to keep up,” Purcell said. “We have a little over 4,000 employees with GDOT today and we’ve got 47,000 miles of state routes to keep up with.
Still, she said Georgia’s DOT is among the best in the nation.
“Georgia ranks first in the country for on time project delivery,” Purcell said. “The first in the country—what better to say about GDOT and what it stands for? We also are successful in streamlining our key process for more efficient project delivery.”
Mary Warnell, Pembroke mayor, organized the meeting.
“She is new as our board member for DOT, and there are many projects that we have not just here in Pembroke, but in our county that are dependent on our working with DOT,” she said. “We felt like it’d be a great opportunity for all of our leaders. And I was so pleased that we had both the city of Richmond Hill and our county join us today.”