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Oakwood mayor: City needs to be a player in transit expansion
lamar scroggs
Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs

Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs said the South Hall city needs “to be a player in the game” if Hall Area Transit expands its fixed-route Gainesville Connection as transit officials hope.

“I can see the real need,” he said Tuesday at a transportation planning meeting in Gainesville. “As Gainesville ... continues to develop this system, we would need to be a player, a significant player, in this ball game.”

He cited employment growth, especially at King’s Hawaiian bakery off H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway, and the need to get people to their jobs.

“And it feeds off each other,” said Wade Carroll of J.R. Wilburn and Associates, a consultant recommending several improvements to Gainesville Connection.

Transit service in turn “makes those industrial properties even more attractive to potential tenants,” Carroll said.

“We have the industry,” Scroggs said after the meeting. “The bus routes need to start coming down into our area.”

Oakwood officials haven’t formally discussed the matter yet, he said.

“There’s funding, there’s different things involved” in such talks, Scroggs said.

Gainesville Connection buses run predominantly in Gainesville, but it does have a route in Oakwood. Buses travel daily through Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia, plus along Mundy Mill Road and then north on Atlanta Highway back toward Gainesville.

As Carroll has done with several governmental boards, he described the expansion recommendations to the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee.

The MPO is the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency, and the Policy Committee is its decision-making arm.

The committee passed a resolution approving the four-year Hall Area Transit Development Plan Update.

The report, released in January, recommends several actions for fixed-route service, primarily extending operating hours from the current 6:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. range to 6:15 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.; extending a couple of key routes; and beginning Saturday service.

The study also confirms a long-held belief that commuter service to Atlanta is needed.

Carroll presented the report Monday to the Hall County Board of Commissioners, especially focusing on Dial-A-Ride, a countywide curbside transportation service that requires reservations at least 48 hours before pickup.

Several years ago, Hall pulled away from fixed-route transit and invested instead in Dial-A-Ride.

He talked to commissioners about a potential route that could run along Ga. 60/Candler Road, touching industries in southeast Hall.

“These (options) need to be vetted out in the business community and politically, as well,” Carroll said.

“Obviously … if you move toward expansion of the routes into Hall County and Oakwood and some other jurisdictions, then there needs to be some further coordination that needs to take place, as far as funding and so forth.”