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Gainesville roads focus group drawing little interest
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People might complain about Gainesville’s traffic, but that doesn’t mean they’re hot enough to join a city-sponsored focus group geared to finding possible solutions.

A Gainesville transportation focus group meeting planned for 2-4 p.m. today at Fair Street Neighborhood Center has been canceled because of lack of interest.

“The city did not receive enough applications back from the public,” said Srikanth Yamala, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s director.

The MPO, which serves as the area’s lead transportation planning agency, and Gainesville began earlier this month seeking public involvement as one part of a Gainesville transportation study.

Officials had hoped to form a 10-member panel, with two members chosen from each city ward.

When it was advertised, officials were looking for “interested participants” willing to commit to four meetings between February and June, including one that had been set for today.

“The next steps regarding public involvement will be discussed by the City Council (this) morning,” Yamala said Wednesday.

The work session is set for 9 a.m., taking place in the city manager’s conference room, Suite 303, at the Joint Administration Building, 300 Henry Ward Way.

Dee Taylor, Gainesville’s traffic engineer, who served as the public contact for the focus group effort, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Mayor Danny Dunagan said one possible option is to hold a couple of public forums instead of a focus group “and just open it up to anybody who wants to come.”

As far as the lack of interest, he speculated that residents “know we’ve got a consultant hired and they may feel like the consultants will make the decision.

“Maybe, we didn’t get (word) out to enough people, or maybe everybody is just so busy, they don’t want to fool with it.”

Pond & Co., a Norcross-based engineering firm, was hired in October to serve as the consultant. The contract is for $125,000, with Gainesville paying $25,000 of the cost and the Federal Highway Administration $100,000.

Richard Fangmann, Pond’s director of transportation planning, has said the firm would be looking at “traditional” and “nontraditional” solutions concerning Gainesville’s traffic woes.

The plan is to complete the study by August.

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