2 'Structurally Deficient' Bridges Included in Valdosta/Lowndes 2040 Transportation Plan

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Winnie Wright
July 16, 2015

Over the next few weeks, the VLMPO will host meetings to inform the public on transportation projects over the next 25 years.

Included in that plan, are six bridges in Lowndes County that will be repaired or replaced.

Each day, dozens of trains pass under and dozens of cars drive over the bridge on Old Quitman Road. Little do they know the bridge was built in 1928 and has a sufficiency rating of 23 out of 100 according to the Federal Highway Administration. If you look at the bridge straight on, you'll notice that one side visibly leans backwards.

Howell Road Bridge, over Grand Bay Creek, right before you cross in to Echols county, is another one of the bridges on the 2040 Transportation Plan project list. The bridge was built in 1958 and has a sufficiency rating of 60 out of 100.

If you look closely under Howell Road Bridge, you can see water damage to the support pillars.

The Valdosta-Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization has included both bridges in its $1 billion 2040 Transportation Plan.

The agency says, as early as this year, a $2 million bridge will be built to replace the Old Quitman Bridge and another $1 million will be spent on the Howell Road Bridge.

Officials also plan to repair the I-75 bridges at exits 2, 11, 22, and 29.

Those projects will cost nearly $135 million of that $1 billion dollar budget.

The second meeting will be held July 22, from 10am-6pm at the Southern Georgia Regional Commission on West Savannah Ave.

The final meeting is July 30, from 4pm-6:30pm at McMullen Southside Library on Griffin Avenue.

The plan is also available online at SGRC.us

Winnie Wright
July 7, 2015

Norman Park, GA - The Valdosta/Lowndes Metropolitan Planning Organization released it's Transportation Plan for the next 25 years on Monday.

It has $1 billion of projects to maintain and improve roads and public transit.

Bike lanes, roundabouts, and a "Complete Streets Policy" to be sure all future projects are water-sewer friendly are all contained within the plan.

$20 million has been set aside to improve the rural transit system.
Additional money has been allotted for a public bus system in Valdosta.

"We actually have another $70 million or so allocated for a proposed urban transit system in the Valdosta Urbanized area," says MPO Coordinator, Corey Hull.

The 2040 transportation plan will be available online at SGRC.us beginning tomorrow. From that point until August 7th, the MPO will be looking for public comment on the projects included in the plan.

The first meeting is July 15th, from 4pm-7pm at the South Georgia Regional Library on Woodrow Wilson Dr.

The second meeting will be held July 22, from 10am-6pm at the Southern Georgia Regional Commission on West Savannah Ave.

The final meeting is July 30, from 4pm-6:30pm at McMullen Southside Library on Griffin Avenue.

The information will also be presented at the Lowndes County Commission and Valdosta City Council meetings in July.

By: Winnie Wright
May 4, 2015

Valdosta, GA - Public transportation, or the lack-there-of, has been a hot-button issue in Valdosta for many years.

Back in 2009, the City Council voted against a public transportation proposal, however that, was during the height of the recession.

Now that things are back on track, residents say, they want a public bus system proposal back on the table.

"One of the problems with not having public transportation is that it geographically limits where people can get jobs", says Tom Hochschild, with Lowndes County Democrats.

Hochschild says jobs are coming back to the Valdosta area, however the number of applicants is limited.

"If you don't have reliable transportation, that means you can only get a job within walking or bicycle distance, and so that's very limiting for a large number of people in our community", he goes on to say.

But the main concern of many is money. Who will pay for a public transportation system and how much would it cost?

"Valdosta's urban area currently receives just over a million dollars a year to operate an urban transit system. We currently are not using that money", says Corey Hull of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

GDOT is holding that money for "future use". The problem, Hull says, is that local government has to match that funding, dollar-for-dollar.

"The question right now is, where does that dollar come from."

Many residents say public transportation systems don't bring in any money. However, others counter that the return-on-investment is long-term.

"A report that was just released last month showed that metropolitan areas with public transit services tend to have lower unemployment, tend to have higher wages, and higher educational attainment, leading to less people on public assistance," continues Hull.

Corey Hull and J-D Rice, as well as Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, and representatives from the County are expected to be present.

If you'd like to get involved in the conversation, search "Public Transportation for Valdosta/Lowndes" on Facebook.

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