GMC Buys Elbert Street, Closes It

Road Closed

Or at least they act like they own it, and they might as well have closed it. First, they built half of their campus on the opposite side of the street from the main square. They put the gym there 50 years ago and gradually kept adding buildings and moving students until the street is now a great inconvenience to them. They act like the street and its traffic volume is a new thing. They take zero responsibility for creating the issue by forcing a majority of their student body (plus faculty and staff) to cross a major highway many times a day. South Elbert St is also part of State Route 112, known locally as the Carl Vinson Highway. That’s ok though — our city is going to let them do whatever they want to with it. They’ll rubber stamp every request the school makes.

First up is the “road diet” — a neat term used instead of the more descriptive “block half the lanes to make you choose another route.” They’ll just force all traffic into 2 lanes there and when the road is blocked by people waiting to turn, you’ll just sit there. When parents stop in the road to let a child run to the car, you’ll stop and wait. People can’t speed if traffic isn’t moving at all!

Next is the speed camera installation. Boy is our police chief really into this one. These magical devices will pour money into the police department’s account by fining the owners of any vehicle speeding in GMC’s special zone. Never mind how that violates the principle that the operator of a vehicle is responsible for traffic infractions. No siree – Milledgeville has pulled the “JG Wentworth” card and wants their cash NOW! Chief Swicord assures us that this money can be used only for vehicles and equipment. Great — money coming from a responsibility that they are outsourcing can be spent without any effort on his department’s part. They just receive monthly checks from these philanthropic devices!

The cameras must also be ok because the city is getting them for FREE! Can’t beat that, right? Let’s totally overlook the conflict of interest where the rate of “offenders” directly affects the income of the outside company. There’s zero accountability for accuracy here, and zero opportunity to confront your accuser — you know, like how our police chief is doing right now in his drawn-out DUI court case where he was caught dead to rights by the GSP… He gets that right where the rest of Milledgeville’s drivers apparently will not. The camera is the judge, it is infallible, and you will pay.

It looks like RedSpeed’s salesmen are targeting towns all over Georgia for their product. Look who else had speed cameras for school zones just magically pop up this year:

Note the same wording as for the reasoning, and take a gander at the fine amounts they will be raking in! In just the 3-day study period, if tickets were being issued the city would have made $62,000 and RedSpeed would have pocketed another $30,000. THAT is why these cameras are being pushed across Georgia, NOT SAFETY.

That trend will be reflected here in Milledgeville with these numbers: If 165 drivers owners per day are cited, that’s an income of over $370,000 per month for the cameras — $240,000 a month for the city and $130,000 for the camera company. Per month. Just for the Elbert St. location.Profit is the motive here people, not safety.

We’ll expand these revenue zones to Highway 49 in front of Baldwin High School and down nearly the entire length of Blandy Road. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, these devices will be cranking out violations and the city — and the camera company — will be raking in the money. Once they get a taste of this funding you can bet the camera numbers will grow. They’ll find a “need” for them all over town.

Hey, you can’t be against the cameras because they’re “only” fines. They won’t count against your license or insurance. That’s the chief’s other selling point. So basically they’re just a fundraiser for the city that’s bankrolled by the speed camera company. That company did a study of Elbert Street and discovered that of 11,000 cars daily, 165 of them are going 10 mph over the speed limit. Put another way, a whopping 1.5 percent of traffic is speeding, or 98.5 percent of traffic is within the speed limit. I’d say that means traffic enforcement there is already a resounding success! Why do we need any of this special traffic control at all?

Someone will bring up the subject of accidents. There’s a big number on Elbert Street and GMC spins the figures to make it sound like it’s right there at their campus. Where are most of them happening? At the intersection of the Sparta Highway and some at the intersection in front of Video Bazaar where they added all the student housing. Maybe 2-3 tops happen yearly at GMC.

GMC has a traffic light where students cross. This means that when students step into the street, all traffic should be going ZERO MPH. If they aren’t stopped or a car looks as if it will not stop, students should not enter the crosswalk. It really is that simple. Look up from your phones and pay attention. Take some personal responsibility. And if young kids are crossing there without supervision, that’s GMC’s failure. If the school’s entire student body is going to be traipsing across Elbert every day, maybe the school should build an overpass that wouldn’t be an inconvenience to any of the city’s travelers instead of making the city bend to their desires. They are sprouting new buildings and entire campuses like they’re made of Legos but can’t spare the money to build a proper overpass? We see those deep pockets — quit pretending you don’t have the funds to do it the right way.

Will our City Council just say “whatever you want” and let them enact this? Or will they stand up and act in the best interest of their constituents?

Here’s the story from Channel 13 so you can make up your own mind: