The city agreed to let GMC carve up South Elbert St. (aka State Highway 112) as long as they pay the bill. The price for one block of 4-lane highway in Milledgeville? $250,000. Our country hasn’t seen a land deal this cheap since we bought Manhattan Island for a few beads and trinkets.
In exchange for the funds, “the city cannot make alterations or changes to the road diet project without written notification to GMC at least 30 days prior to proposing one or more changes.” Looks like $250k goes a long way in buying whatever influence you need around here.
“A motion was made by Alderman Walter Reynolds. The motion received a second from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Chambers.— Union-Recorder
Those voting to approve the agreement included the Mayor Pro Tem and City alder members Jeanette Walden and Walter Reynolds.
Those voting against the road diet agreement, meanwhile, were Denese Shinholster, Dr. Collinda Lee, and Richard “Boo” Mullins.”
What will this “road diet” (all disruptive projects require a catchy name) project entail? The 4-lane truck route will be squeezed down to 2 lanes next to GMC’s gym. This will create a purposeful bottleneck that will bring traffic to a crawl 24 hours a day, even when the school is not open — traffic where the school’s own study showed that 98.5% of vehicles are already traveling within the allowed school zone speed limit. That’s not good enough for them though. The idea of their students actually waiting for the light to change to red is too complicated for the school’s administration. They can’t wait for the day their student body can barge out into the road without even looking, like the students over at GCSU do already.
Once the former highway has the vehicular capacity of a gravel driveway, they’ll still have the new speed enforcement cameras to look forward to. I don’t know how even Richard Petty could speed through their Disney-esque traffic controls but they’ll be prepared. I am honestly shocked that they haven’t figured out how to put a roundabout into this design but hey, they’re still only on the rough draft.
It’s All Smoke and Mirrors
GMC is throwing out all kinds of “reasons” for this project to distract you from their main purpose. You see, they have a ridiculous amount of golf cart traffic that darts across S. Elbert at E. Green St. Many students and employees also jaywalk there, where there is no crosswalk or light. This project will force traffic to slow to let them “Frogger” their way across as well. The school didn’t care when they placed their Engineering / Motor Pool across Elbert but now the highway is just in their way! But it’s “for the children.” You see, nobody can argue against anything when they say “for the children.”
Notice how GMC keeps putting up new buildings but just can’t manage to add parking spaces on the main block of the campus. Faculty, staff, and students have to cross one street or another to reach their cars — a design choice made by GMC and paid for by the citizens who have to dodge all the foot traffic. Those streets are such an inconvenience for the school. If only they could find a way to block them off, or at least make them so congested as to be unusable…
The Unmentioned Consequences
So now South Elbert is a traffic nightmare at the beginning and end of each school day. The narrowed road is further jammed by parents waiting to get into or out of school lots. Traffic backs up into the intersection at the Sparta Highway light. Emergency vehicles can no longer use this route because they will have no way to get around the traffic jam it creates by design. What about school buses at the gym for athletic events? They certainly can’t turn into the parking lot from a narrow 2-lane road! Citizens will soon learn to avoid Elbert (which is GMC’s true goal) and start looking for other ways to head south.
They can’t use S. Jefferson St. The bridge is out, and there really isn’t a timetable to fix it since the street is only lightly-traveled.
The next street is South Wayne St. It isn’t very wide in that block but at least isn’t blocked by flocks of students. Oh wait, it is the home of GMC’s new elementary school building! They closed the old driveway onto E. Franklin St. too, forcing the new traffic to use only South Wayne. That will bring hundreds more cars to compete with the ones displaced from S. Elbert. The tiny intersection at E. Greene St. (the old Western Auto intersection) won’t be able to handle the volume and that will create gridlock into downtown. Then imagine what happens if the funeral home dares hold a service when the school is letting out.
Traffic can’t use South Wilkinson St., the last of the large 4-lane roads (Memory Hill Cemetery past the Piggly Wiggly.) We’ve already “dieted” it down to 2 lanes to give it giant bike lanes! Lanes nobody uses, but that’s not really the point. Having enough bicycle lanes gets our town designed “bicycle friendly” and we certainly must have that!
“The projected completion date of the project is set for Aug. 1, just in time for the 2019-2020 school term.”
Yay. There’s nothing quite like the quality of a large project done in a hurry by the lowest bidder! In a previous article we mentioned that GMC was buying Elbert Street. At least now we know how much that costs.