The Effingham County Scenic Byway committee held a public meeting in Meldrim on Thursday as part of their ongoing efforts to educate the public about the proposed scenic byway.
Only one Meldrim resident, Kim Lee, attended the meeting.
“You’re our public tonight,” noted Tom Grier, Rincon representative on the historic preservation advisory council.
Betty Renfro explained that the designated roadway would travel through all three municipalities and Meldrim starting from Rincon-Stilwell Road and ending on Meldrim Road.
“This will be a way to get people to visit our county,” she said.
Linda McDaniel, director of marketing and events at the Chamber of Commerce, noted it would also promote tourism. Everyone agreed the county has a lot to offer in tourism.
The byway would also help to preserve the county’s gems.
“This is all about preservation,” Grier said.
The byway will feature signage alerting drivers to its scenic byway designation. The only restriction is that no new commercial billboards will be allowed along the route.
Lee stressed her concerns about the amount of traffic and the speed of the drivers already traveling along Meldrim Road. Without the enforcement of current speed limits, Lee is opposed to more traffic being added.
“I see it from sun up to sun down,” she said. “It’s gonna end in a fatality.”
Pearl Boyens, Guyton civic leader and byway committee member, pointed out, however, that traffic along the byway would be slower.
There is no way to re-route the byway since Meldrim Road runs right through Meldrim and the purpose of the byway is to highlight the community.
Originally, Meldrim was not on the byway. However, the committee later decided to loop the byway so that drivers can get back onto the interstate.
“That way it touches all the municipalities in the county,” Renfro said.
Lee said Meldrim needs its own police department so that traffic laws can be enforced.
“They wait for a tragedy to happen before they give it any attention,” she said.
Yet, even without the byway Grier noted that the problems with traffic and speed would remain. He and McDaniel decided to set up a meeting with Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie and Lee to address these concerns.
The Georgia Scenic Byways Program required only one public meeting for the county. However, the committee thought that having several meetings throughout the county would give the most people a chance to voice their concerns and offer input.
The committee will send all of the information gathered from the public meetings to the Georgia Scenic Byways Program. Once approved, the plans are sent to the state Department of Transportation for its approval. If they approve, the byway is then designated and signage is put in place along the route.
“We hope that it will enhance the county,” Renfro said.
The next meetings will be held in Guyton on May 7 and in Rincon on May 8. For more information, call McDaniel at 754-3301.