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Transit system rolling closer
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If all goes as planned, the cities of Hinesville and Flemington will have a public transit system rolling by the summer of 2008.
During last week’s Hinesville City Council meeting, the board decided to act as the grant applicant to fund and implement the first phase of the transit plan, Mayor Tom Ratcliffe said.
The first phase would provide bus or trolley car transportation to Fort Stewart, downtown Hinesville, Liberty Regional Medical Center and to the portion of Flemington on Highway 84, planning commission director Sonny Timmerman said.
Normally, a transit authority would be created to deal with the planning, implementation and financing, but the council decided to pursue the avenue of being the grant applicant in order to expedite the introduction of the transit system, Ratcliffe said.
Since Fort Stewart anticipates thousands of soldiers to return next summer, Timmerman urged the council to be the applicant so the system could be in place for the soldiers’ use, Timmerman said.
Otherwise, the other options would be to either create a transit authority or have another county entity get the transit plan off the ground, which would take considerably more time, he said.
“The (Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission) will put together the grant packages for the city, get them in by the end of the year, and the (Georgia Department of Transportation) can then put them in their cycle for state and federal funds so presumably by July 1 we’d be funded and ready to go,” Timmerman said.
In terms of money, state and federal funds will cover about 90 percent of the capital costs, and about 50 percent of the operating costs, Timmerman said.
Hinesville will be partially responsible for paying for a portion of the capital costs, and a portion of the operating costs, but Fort Stewart will help with the funding along with the other local entities as the transit plan progresses, he said.
Despite the fact Hinesville will file the grant applications, this does not mean the city has made a commitment of money, Ratcliffe said.
Timmerman presumes that within eight months, the transit authority will be created and the council will then be able to hand over their responsibilities to it, Ratcliffe said.
The second phase of the transit plan will likely include adding service to Allenhurst, Walthourville, Midway and the industrial park in the unincorporated area of Liberty County, Timmerman said. 
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