AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The Augusta Regional Transportation Study is holding two 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan Update meetings. One of those was at the Aiken County Government Complex.
The A.R.T.S. 2050 meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8, was a way to get public input on transportation updates that will take place in the CSRA in the short term and long term.
The Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) impacts four different counties across Georgia and South Carolina. That’s all of Richmond County, and parts of Aiken, Columbia and Edgefield Counties. This is the first meeting they’ve held since the 2040 plan five years ago. City leaders say it’s important to communicate and plan together as our area continues to grow and the public’s wants and needs shift.
“What may have been important to you five years ago might not be important now," said Dr. Oliver Page with Land Use/Transportation Planner for the City of Augusta. “Having a good transportation network, having an efficient transportation network is key to growth. So, as a regional body, we have to sort of coordinate what is best for the region so the region can grow at a reasonable rate, rather than focus on a particular county.”
Page says that during the last MTP update, residents were worried about building more highways and roads. Now, that’s not the main focus.
Dr. Page said, “People want more sidewalks, more bike paths, more multi-use trails."
Holding meetings like these help county and state planners decide where to put your money, and which projects should be done now versus down the road.
“Short term projects, the funds have been committed, and these projects will go ahead. But, as we go further into the future, we have to prioritize what projects we are going to do with what money we feel is going to be available in those future years,” said Dr. Page.
Part of coordinating together is getting input from as many people as possible. There will be two more meetings held on Thursday, Oct. 10, in Augusta at the First Baptist Church and in Evans at the Columbia County Government Center.
The meetings happening this week are just the first phase of data collection. After people give their ideas, a consultant will take the data and draw up a plan that compares it to the last MTP that was done in 2015. Around February or March of 2020, there will be another public outreach to see if what the consultant comes back with is representative of what our citizens need and want. Then, there will be some more data and research, and next July or August is when the finalized ARTS 2050 plan will be released.
Page said, "People have different values as to what is important, and that is what this plan is trying to do. What do residents, citizens consider as important in transportation development in this region?"
Page says the more public input, the better. This Thursday, there are two more meetings from 5:30 p.m. until 8. Those will be held at the Augusta First Baptist Church and the Columbia County Government Center.
If you can’t make it to any of the meetings this week but want to give your input, visit https://www.futuremobility2050.com/. They will be taking comments on the web until Nov. 1.