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Stuck in Greenbrier traffic? Thank feds

Posted: October 11, 2011 - 8:41pm

Pretty much every weekday morning and afternoon during the school year, motorists on Washington Road near Riverwood Plantation can count on being stuck in traffic.

Next time you're sitting in one of those slow-rolling roadblocks, you can thank the federal government.

See, Columbia County has been trying for years to add a short stretch of road to the existing dead end of William Few Parkway, where it turns off to go into the Greenbrier schools. It's a little more than a mile and half to Hardy McManus Road, where a connection would provide immediate relief to clogged Washington Road.

County officials even went so far as to take money away from another project - the widening of Flowing Wells Road - to help speed up the William Few extension. And, in the meantime, the county quickly was able to clear, pave and extend the southern portion of the road, linking it all the way to Lewiston Road.

Ah, but the northern end? That crosses wetlands. And for the feds, it's apparently easier to build a bridge to nowhere than allow a road to cross a swamp.

Remember: It was with the help of Georgia environmental officials, empowered by the feds, that construction of the Columbia County campus of Augusta Tech was so long delayed, simply because of the location of a driveway near wetlands.

What's worse, in the case of the William Few extension, is that the feds not only have delayed the project by forcing Columbia County to comply with silly bureaucratic rules - insisting, for example, that the county repeat a public hearing because no one from the public showed up for the first one - but also by changing the rules in mid-project and requiring the already compliant county to then meet those new regulations, too.

"The regulatory agencies are out of control," fumes Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross. "Every time we turn around, they change the rules."

Think national elections don't matter to local communities? As this maddening project amply demonstrates, Uncle Sam has far too much power and far too much time on his hands - and it's local communities like ours that pay the price.

 

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