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Officials look at regional mobility plan; get input from Gadsden County reps

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By Alice Du Pont

The first public workshop to discuss a regional mobility plan was held last week at East Gadsden High School. The workshop was designed to get input from the public on the short- and long-range plans to meet transportation needs for the county and to discuss how the county's needs fit into regional needs.

"At one time we talked about a 20-year plan, now that has moved to a 50-year plan," said Harry D. Reed III, executive director of the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency.

The state of Florida requires transportation planning agencies and transit agencies to update long-range plans, as well as short-range work plans periodically. Reed said traditionally the long-range approach has focused on moving vehicles quickly and efficiently.

"The goal is to move the planning beyond a singular focus and consider transportation issues from a comprehensive, broad perspective that includes community values, needs, land use and other alternatives," Reed said.

Lola Wallace, who represented the Gadsden County Senior Citizens Center, said she would like to see more consideration given to providing for the needs of seniors who live in rural Gadsden County.

"The bus lines will usually run from Chattahoochee through Quincy and Midway, but if you live 3 or 4 miles from the main route, how are you going to get there? We need a way to get people to the main transportation route," she said.

Steve Cote of RS&H consultants agreed with Wallace.

"That is the new approach we are taking. Instead of looking at moving vehicles, we'll be looking at moving people and goods," he said.

Dr. Anthony Viegbesie suggested that bus routes be more user-friendly. He said when he campaigned for the Legislature in 2008, he had an interest in transportation and rode the bus for 3 days in Leon County.

"It was very dismal. Sometimes I was the only person on the bus other than the driver. It doesn't do any good to have buses if people aren't riding them," he said.

According to information gathered by CRPTA, 46 percent of Gadsden County residents commute to Leon County to work daily. In 2007, CRTPA completed a study that indicated regionally (Gadsden, Jefferson, Wakulla and Leon counties), 81 percent of the workers drive to work alone, 12 percent carpool, 1 percent uses public transportation and 4 percent use other means of transportation.

Reed said the success of the planning project depends on public participation. The Capital Legacy Project Web site incorporates all of the project information, as well as other opportunities for providing comments and input through comment areas and online surveys. You can view the site at www.CapitalLegacyProject.org.

The plan is scheduled for completion by Fall 2010. Additional public meetings will be held in August and September, and in April, May, August and September 2010.

For questions or more information, contact CRPTA representative Jack Kostrzewa at John.Kostrzewa@talgov.com or 850-891-6800, or contact StarMetro representative Ron Garrison at Ronald.Gar-rison@talgov.com or 850-891-5200.