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County to push for more parkway help
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As Effingham County Chamber of Commerce members and other community leaders gather in Atlanta, they’ll be knocking on doors of key lawmakers and administrators in the state.

And they’ll be continuing to push for the Effingham Parkway.

Effingham County Commission Chairman Dusty Zeigler said commissioners have looked at a few more things to try to get attention for the proposed road. They’re also looking for neighboring counties and some other Effingham entities to get on board with them.

“There are some studies out there that will help us move up the priority list,” he said.

But the study, Zeigler noted, is expensive, and the county wants to talk with representatives from the Chamber, the Industrial Development Authority, Chatham County and the Homebuilders Association about taking part in financing the study. County Administrator David Crawley said the Texas Department of Transportation uses a study that focuses on the economic impact of roads to a region, and Georgia Southern University could help put such a study in play for the Effingham Parkway.

“Some of the discussion with the (Georgia) DOT is taxpayer return is one big thing they are looking at,” he said.

Georgia Southern has a model software the county can use and it will cost $12,000 to put in the base information for the study. The study would look at the impacts to the county and to the three municipalities and to Chatham as well.

“There may be some information that is quite helpful,” Crawley said. “They will see there is a significant economic impact in Chatham County. Georgia Southern believes this is going to be as big an economic impact to Chatham County as it is to Effingham County.”

“It’s not just a transportation study. It’s an economic study,” Zeigler said.

The ability for new businesses to get its workforces to and from the jobs is seen as critical in bringing in those employers, Crawley said. The model Georgia Southern will use is also used by private industries and some development authorities.

Though the parkway bears Effingham’s name and most of it will lie within the county, officials believe the most important stretch of the road will be in western Chatham County. The projected end of the parkway — tied into the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway at I-95 — also carries a hefty price tag.

Crawley said the DOT didn’t know what criteria it will be using to determine the best taxpayer return for a road. But keeping the Effingham Parkway on the front burner is imperative.

“We need to be at the top of the priority list for getting engineering and design (funding),” he said, “so we can be called ‘shovel-ready’ in order to get federal funds.”

Getting other partners on board to help fund the study could lead to greater teamwork in the county and across county lines,  Zeigler added.

Said Commissioner Verna Phillips: “We can’t sit back and do nothing. We have to do something.”