So, the government decides it wants to do something huge and expensive that won't actually solve the problem it's targeting. Citizens, who unlike bureaucrats still have common sense, adamantly oppose it. Yet the government officials, in their wisdom, not only ram it through anyway, but insist that once you have it, you'll come around - and even like it.
Yeah, we could be talking about the federal government's health-insurance reform package, but we aren't. This is something a little closer to home.
In spite of near-unanimous public opposition and the bona fide idiocy of the project, the Georgia Department of Transportation is hell-bent on replacing the Pumpkin Center four-way stop with a traffic circle.
First, let's establish the obvious: Many, or maybe even most, of Columbia County's 113,000 or so residents have never even been through that intersection. Lots of them probably don't even know where it is. The population density and traditional commute direction makes it far more likely that most residents travel Washington Road or Belair Road morning and afternoon.
Those motorists will benefit tremendously from the Columbia County government's plan to widen Washington Road. That's a state DOT owned and theoretically maintained highway, but rather than wait on the glacial pace of the DOT, the county is kicking in $39 million to widen the road itself.
The DOT can't do it because the cash-strapped agency doesn't have that much money. But they do have nearly a million bucks, and it's burning a hole in the bureaucrats' pockets worse than an 8-year-old's birthday money.
The money is a federal "stimulus" pass-along specifically granted to pay for a roundabout. Whether the county's citizens want one or not, Washington and Atlanta apparently know best.
This really is a case where it isn't the money; it's the principle of the thing. Citizens who travel through the intersection regularly are furious at the plan, as are the owners of the Pumpkin Center store at the soon-to-be-destroyed intersection.
But citizens in the rest of the county - the ones stuck in traffic on state highways every morning and afternoon - ought to be angry, too, that the state agency is ignoring their problems and passing the buck to local taxpayers, while spending a million bucks to screw up an intersection that no one is complaining about.
We often hear about the clout our local legislative delegation has in Atlanta. It's time for them to show it by strangling this boondoggle before the first shovel of dirt is turned.
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