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County hoping to drive transportation forward
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Effingham County commissioners are trying to steer a course they believe may help push several road projects along.

The county is working on putting together a local transportation board that would bring in representatives of several other governments and entities.

“Time is of the essence here,” commission Chairman Dusty Zeigler said.

Commissioners first heard the plan for a transportation board at their Nov. 4 meeting. As drawn up, it will consist of the mayors of the three municipalities and the chairmen of the county commission, industrial development authority and the board of education. It also will have two citizen representatives.

“Its purpose is to create coordinated planning for transportation,” County Administrator David Crawley said. “I think it’s important we work with our citizens to make those decisions we will be facing.”

The three mayors have said they want to be on the board, Zeigler said.

“The sooner we get this organized, the better we can present our case,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said.

Crawley asked commissioners if they wanted to move ahead with a Georgia Southern University-led study that would cost approximately $12,000. The cost to the county for its share of the information needed would be about $5,000 to $6,000, Crawley said.

“It would be beneficial,” he said. “Our concern is what the Department of Transportation will do. We still don’t know
what information they’re looking for. More data is always beneficial, especially if it’s positive data.

“It would be great if they were prioritizing every project in the state based on this model.”

Said Zeigler: “It strengthens our argument.”

Crawley also said the study won’t just benefit the push for the Effingham Parkway but could yield data that would help other initiatives.

“But to move it forward, you’re going to have to have the data,” Commissioner Verna Phillips said.

Effingham County representatives met with state Rep. Vance Smith, chairman of the House Transportation Committee during  Effingham Day at the Capitol, but Smith didn’t have a working knowledge of Effingham Parkway. The parkway is part of House Bill 277, the Georgia 2020 Transportation Act, which has been read in the House of Representatives. Under the bill, several road projects, including the Last Mile from Jimmy DeLoach Parkway to the port, are identified for funding under sales tax mechanisms that have to be approved.

“I don’t know if it will stay there,” Crawley said.

Crawley said the state DOT gave approval for the grading and base paving of Old Augusta Road, which is scheduled to start next month. The county is still in talks with Georgia-Pacific on phase 2 of the road.

Commissioners also approved a resolution for a letter of thanks to Raybon Anderson. Anderson announced earlier this week he will be resigning his post as a member of the state transportation board representing the 12th Congressional District, which includes Effingham County. His replacement will be chosen by the state legislators whose districts fall within the 12th U.S. House District.