With Georgia’s roads filled up with cars, a statewide look at public transit has got to happen, said state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.
But Hall County’s lone member of the House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding said “there’s no silver bullet” to solving the state’s traffic problems.
“It’s going to take transit, light rail, commuter lanes, ridesharing, buses,” Miller said.
He is one of House Speaker David Ralston’s four state residents on the committee, which also is made up of six House members and four representatives of either transit systems or counties that provide mass transit.
“From congestion relief to economic development, a robust transit network across our state will have long-term benefits for our citizens,” Ralston said in a press release.
He said that situations like the recent collapse and rebuild of the Interstate 85 bridge near Piedmont Road “have clearly demonstrated the importance of transit to our state and its economy.”
The committee plans to hold six public meetings around the state, including in Atlanta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah.
“I’d love to get one in Gainesville,” Miller said.
He cited as an example of transportation that works a reversible toll lane on Interstate 75 in Henry County. The lane is open to northbound rush-hour traffic in the morning, then southbound rush-hour traffic in the evenings.
“It’s a new road dedicated to reducing traffic in that corridor,” Miller said. “If I had a magic wand or could snap my fingers, I’d have one of those (on Interstate 985) from I-85 to (Jesse Jewell Parkway).”
He agreed with Ralston on improving transportation for the sake of Georgia’s economy.
“We cannot have continued economic prosperity without adequate transportation,” Miller said. “That’s on a statewide basis.”
Earlier this year, Hall Area Transit rolled out a new four-year plan recommending several actions for fixed-route service, primarily extending operating hours, extending a couple of key routes; adding a new route along Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 and beginning Saturday service. Officials linked the system’s growth to economic development and meeting ridership needs.
“We have a groundswell of support from corporations, businesses, manufacturing companies, nonprofits and other government agencies who are saying this is our time,” said Phillippa Lewis Moss, director of the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center, which operates Hall Area Transit.
“The question for us is are we willing to help them connect?” she said.