Tim Lee, Cobb Commission Chairman
If you want a first-hand perspective concerning a roadway, you don’t have to search. Just ask the person who drives on it every day.
Anyone with a commute, a businessperson, a technician on a service call or simply a person taking an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment can tell you which lights take longer than others. They can tell which roads have more traffic and they know when to avoid bumper-to-bumper congestion. And if you asked them to pinpoint a problem or a solution, I’ll bet they can do that as well.
This is why we are seeking the public’s input as part of our Comprehensive Transportation Plan update. The program, which will establish strategies and make recommendations to serve us through the year 2040, is also essential to our eligibility for the state and federal funding that helps pay for transportation projects.
How important is this? State and federal governments have authorized more than $43.5 million for Cobb County projects in 2013. The previous year, it was $16.4 million. The year before that it was $47.7 million. If we didn’t meet the required public input standards, this money would have had to be raised from other sources in order to continue the work.
We also want to hear from residents about the improvements they are willing to support. Not only are we interested in specific improvement suggestions, we also want to know how the public wants us to pay for them. Are you willing to support aggressive transportation solutions that make huge impacts or are you willing to make do with the status quo?
It’s like going out to eat. If you don’t want to spend much, you will probably seek out a fast food eatery. If you want a high-quality dinner, you have to be prepared to pay more for it. We need to know what residents prefer and how much they’re willing to pay for it.
Obviously, government has to be responsive to its populace. We work for you. Our decisions should be based on the best results for everyone who lives, works and travels here. Prior to our most recent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax vote, we held 24 separate public meetings in two months to get input.
Feedback consistently helps us improve transportation projects throughout the community. For instance, on Six Flags Drive, improvements called for a fence and lengthy median. Comments by those who live and work there helped point out their concerns, leading us to arrange for cut-throughs that balance safety with traffic flow.
We need residents to check our Web site at www.cobbcounty.org/dot and contact us with their ideas. This is, after all, not just for them. It is crucial to shaping our community to face the future in decades to come. We are planning what our community will be like for our children. And their children.
I cannot think of a more important mission. And I cannot think of a better way to accomplish it than asking those who live here for the best way to make it happen.