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Eyes on the Road: Army Corps of Engineers could get money for roads
Baker Sam
Sam Baker

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — and Lake Lanier in particular — could be getting at least a small amount of money under the government’s 27-month transportation spending bill passed last July by Congress.

The Federal Lands Transportation Program is included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, providing some $300 million for projects to improve access on federal lands, said Timothy A. Rainey, operations project manager at Lake Lanier.

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are designated to receive $270 million for ongoing programs.

The remaining $30 million will go to the corps, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.

“This is the first time these agencies have been included in (transportation funding) legislation,” Rainey said.

“Since this is new to us, we have to start from scratch in regards to collecting and providing the proper inventory data and condition assessments that (the Office of) Federal Lands Highway is looking for,” he said.

Lake Lanier will be competing with other corps projects, as well as the other agencies, for a portion of the money.

“With Lake Lanier’s close proximity to Atlanta, high economic impact, high visitation and performance/efficiency scores, we feel good about our packages competing well enough to receive a portion of these funds,” Rainey said.

He wasn’t sure, however, when he would learn about funding.

Speaking at the Lake Lanier Association’s annual membership meeting in June, Rainey talked about public perception concerns if Lake Lanier gets the money, which the corps might use for paving in park areas.

“What I don’t want you to see is (the corps has) reduced services, closed parks and they’re not cleaning the bathrooms, but they’re spending ... to pave Bald Ridge campground,” he said.

Because of budget issues, the corps has limited hours of operation at Duckett Mill, Bolding Mill, Sawnee and Van Pugh South parks to between 7 a.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Sunday every week.

Metro planning group gets new transportation planner

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization has a new senior transportation planner.

In his job with Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency, Sam Baker will manage day-to-day activities and work with area, state and federal planning officials.

“Based on his extensive background, I am positive that Sam will be an asset to our organization and help steer Gainesville-Hall area in the right direction,” said Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala, who also serves as the MPO’s director.

Before joining the MPO, Baker worked as a transportation planner with the Georgia Department of Transportation, where he worked with MPOs in developing and updating their long-range transportation plans and travel-demand forecasting models, Yamala said.

He also worked as a comprehensive planner with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and as a transportation planner with Missoula County in Montana.

Baker, who is married and has two children, earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from The Ohio State University. He also holds a master’s in business administration from Kennesaw State University.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:

jgill@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/jeffagill

@JeffGTimes

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