With the growth of our county, there will be an increase in pedestrian and bicycle injuries and deaths. The challenging economy and air pollution controls will someday return us to biking, walking and mass transit. The most efficient way to help prevent deaths and injuries is to build bike paths, sidewalks and crosswalks in areas that people ride and walk today.
Creative engineers have done this for many years, building sidewalks in a subdivision or apartment complex after people have lived there for a few months and made imprints in the dirt that they use to indicate where they need to place a walkway.
Last summer the Augusta Regional Transportation Study contracted ARCADIS of Atlanta to do a 20-year bike and walking path plan. Preston Sparks provided an excellent article, Panel unveils bike path projects, in the Nov. 17 News-Times that listed the projects in Richmond, Aiken and Columbia counties through 2007. There was not space to list the paths planned after 2007, including the paths on the web-site map at www.co.richmond.ga.us/planz/Transportation/Rich_Col_Bike.
atThere is a stretch of Columbia Road where I have often seen children and teens dangerously ride, walk and cross. The plan leaves out this stretch: Columbia Road from Belair Road to Flowing Wells. It calls for paths and walks in a huge, three-sided box all around this area. That I know an 18-year-old who lost her life on this stretch, and that I trembled when my teens walked along it, make this problem real to me.
I asked the ARCADIS engineers why this approximate 1.5 mile stretch was left out, and they said it is because Columbia Road has six lanes (too busy) and therefore does not qualify. I e-mailed them that there are only four lanes and a turn lane, but they have not responded or changed their map. If others in the community will voice their concern, I am sure the plan will be reviewed and possibly corrected.
The facilities they are planning will be wide paths separated by barriers from traffic. It will be a shame to have our children and grandchildren traveling unsafe along Columbia Road, yet they can cycle or walk from Belair south to Wheeler to Flowing Wells (like a three-sided box all around but not next to the front of the many subdivisions facing Columbia Road).
People will be tempted to ride along Columbia Road since it is the only stretch left out. Injuries and deaths along this stretch will increase unless citizens speak up to rectify this plan. Usually I am a proponent of Department of Transportation plans as they are based on safety and economy - for example, medians that save lives when installed properly. But the ARCADIS engineers have given me no reason for this oversight.
Please call or write the contracted engineering firm ARCADIS at ARCADIS, G&M Inc, 2849 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 400, Atlanta, Georgia 30339; phone (770) 431-8666, to have your input considered on the plan which is being finalized now.
Send a copy of your letter to the city planners at ARCPC, 525 Telfair St., Augusta, GA 30901 Attention: Paul DeCamp.
Priscilla Bence, Coordinator
Safe Communities Coalition
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.