News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Local trans planning: get involved & be heard

MACORTS, the regional transportation coordination body, is currently updating its Long Range Transportation Plan.

It's a little difficult to find on the MACORTS main page, but the presentation given by the consultants who are handling the model for the LRTP is now online. The model is a representation, based on traffic conditions and socio-economic data, of the geographic distribution of traffic in the Athens region.

Here's the direct link to the model.

On the plus side, they've included public transit for the first time ever, so we may get a more accurate picture when we look at Athens Transit and UGA Campus Transit as part of the network. However, the 2035 projection was based on current ridership - today's raw numbers, not percentages - so with the projected 50% MACORTS-wide population growth and 47% UGA enrollment jump, this obviously needs some adjusting.

Stay tuned for information on how you can submit formal comments on the LRTP.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Trying to find my happy place

Good thing this was published at the same time as this and this. By the power of Greyskull. Or, as granny n'em used to say, "I ain't seen nuthin' like this in all my born days."

For your enjoyment: a graphic representation of the legislature's approach to solving transportation issues.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

FYI

An important reminder from Lance Armstrong.

Public Hearing: Jefferson Rd Publix development

What: Public hearing regarding proposed development of a mixed-use shopping center, anchored by a Publix grocery store, to be located on Jefferson Road between Trinity Place and Moss Side. Map of proposal below (click to enlarge)

Where: Christian Life Worship Center, corner of Kathwood and Old Jefferson Road

When: Monday, March 30th, 6:30 pm

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Losing our chance for TSPLOST again?!

The AJC reports:

"Legislators still split on transportation tax"
Prospects for a new sales tax to pay for roads, bridges, rail and other transportation improvements have hit a barrier as the legislative session nears an end.

The Senate on Monday passed its version of an optional transportation sales tax — for the second time.

The Senate and House disagree on how to set up a new penny sales tax for transportation.

The Senate supports a regional tax, where groups of counties — including the Atlanta area — could band together to tax themselves for local projects, thus giving more local control over transportation dollars. The House supports a statewide tax because roads do not end at the county line.

The Senate on Monday approved a gutted version of the House transportation measure. The substance of House Resolution 206 had been replaced with the Senate’s original vision for a regional sales tax.

Because the Senate has not budged from its position, the two chambers would have to agree on a compromise in the last five days of the session, or the prospect of a transportation tax would die for now.

Oh come on! Not again!

Please contact your state representative and senator, and urge them to find a workable compromise on this deal. Georgia cannot wait any longer to tackle its haywire transportation system.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Multi-Modal Madness- register now!


You may now register for our April 18th special event, Multi-Modal Madness!

Check out the link for details.

Final push on state legislation

Six days remain for state legislators to negotiate the final details on a number of bills, including TSPLOST and an overhaul of GDOT.

See congress.org to find your elected officials.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Days of our lives

Big shocker: AJC reports on the powerful influence wealthy patrons exert on the selection process for transportation projects in GA.

The recently passed House version of the TSPLOST bill includes an
unprecedented list of specific projects, several of which are directly linked to generous donors. These projects were included by House Transportation committee chairman Rep. Vance Smith, who, we learn from this March 4th articlein the Gainesville Times, was passed over for the chief position at GDOT. Gena Evans was picked instead.

His supporter for that position was House Speaker Glenn Richardson. Richardson, as you may recall, is an ardent supporter of "the creation of a State Transportation Authority, which would effectively render the [GDOT] transportation board powerless." His likely pick for the head of the STA: Vance Smith.

Keep in mind this is all happening against the backdrop of Gena Evans' somewhat saucy adventures as GDOT director. Our state's transportation "leaders" belong on daytime television.

Opponents of the STA proposal (like me), believe this new body will increase the porcine nature of transportation planning and decision making in the state. The system will become even more pay-to-play than it already is.

Read the whole AJC piece. Marvel at the awful predictability of it all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New & improved Athens Transit website

Check out the wholly redesigned Athens Transit website. It looks great!

This new site is a huge improvement, so kudos to ATS for completing this needed project.

While the real-time bus tracker is a very cool feature, we still need some scale maps of the routes...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Local news a-plenty

From Flagpole:

From ABH:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oconee St park-n-ride news

"Athens commuters might be able to gas up their cars and grab breakfast at a planned Eastside parking lot before hopping on a bus and heading to work." reports the ABH.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Federal earmarks help replace UGA buses

Of the $9 million set aside for UGA in the federal stimulus bill, $1,330,000 will be used for replacing UGA buses.

Athens' air quality will not meet EPA standards

Due to increasing levels of smog and air pollution, "Clarke County does not meet new, tougher federal air quality standards," reports the ABH.
Ozone, or smog, is created when pollution from car exhaust, fossil fuel-burning power plants and industries mix with sunlight during hot summer months. It can cause respiratory and heart disease.

When the EPA finalizes the nonattainment list next year, state and local officials will have three years to come up with a plan to bring the 27 counties into compliance.

Athens drivers may have to take their cars to mechanics for emissions testing, Field said. The county also could lose federal funding for widening roads, but gain funding for sidewalks, bicycle lanes, mass transit and other forms of transportation that pollute less than cars, he said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

TSPLOST, GDOT legislation

ABH summarizes the current status on a number of legislative items, including TSPLOST:

► Senate Resolution 44

Constitutional amendment to create T-SPLOST, a 1 percent special-purpose, local-option sales tax for transportation

Status: Passed the Senate, in House Transportation Committee

► SB 200

Transfer transportation construction from the state Department of Transportation to the new State Transportation Authority

Status: Passed the Senate, awaiting House committee assignment

► SB 39

Constitutional amendment to allow counties to levy a 1 percent sales tax for transportation for projects of their choice, gutted in the House

Status: Passed Senate and House, in conference committee

► HB 605

House version of a bill to transfer state transportation construction from the Department of Transportation to the new State Transportation Authority

Status: House Transportation Committee

► HB 277

House bill to levy a 1 percent sales tax statewide for specified transportation projects over 10 years

Status: Passed House, Senate Finance Committee


HB= House Bill

SB= Senate Bill



Friday, March 6, 2009

Downtown parking deck

"The Athens-Clarke Commission is on track to pick a developer to work with on a $20 million downtown Athens parking deck, " reports the Banner-Herald.

Atlanta-based Batson-Cook Development is the frontrunner to design, build and fund part of a long-planned mixed-use parking deck in a surface lot near the Georgia Theatre.

The public-private partnership would be a first for Athens, although they're common in other cities, such as Greenville, S.C., and Savannah.

The preliminary plan consists of a six-story structure that looks like a building, not a parking deck. It includes 520 parking spaces, 12,000 square feet of ground-level retail space along West Clayton and Washington streets, 23,000 square feet of high-end office space on the top floor and a rooftop garden.

ABH provides this artist rendering of the deck as well:


Could any of the parking go below street level?

Bike racks and/or lockers, scooter parking, and an Athens Transit bus stop would be nice as well.

The roof-top garden and mixed-use aspects sound very cool, and it's a relief that the architects are trying to avoid the grim aesthetics of a parking deck.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Downtown parking, transit ads, & TSPLOST

ABH:
The Athens-Clarke Commission voted Tuesday to triple the fines for parking too long in downtown Athens.

Starting July 1, the fine for parking at an expired meter will rise from $3 to $10, and the fine for feeding quarters into the meter after it has expired will rise from $5 to $15.

Meters will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., rather than the current 6 p.m.
The commission also voted to "sell advertisements on Athens Transit buses, a move that is expected to bring in about $25,000 to $50,000 a year for additional service."

ALSO,
The state legislature is moving forward on a TSPLOST bill:

The House plan favors a statewide sales tax that would raise $25 billion for transportation projects during the next decade. The Senate plan would allow counties to band together to impose a regional tax.

Georgia's business lobbyists have aggressively pushed for the increases, saying Atlanta's traffic woes are hurting their ability to recruit and keep companies. The city's commute routinely ranks among the nation's worst, and state officials say Georgia ranks near the bottom when it comes to per capita spending on transportation.

Under both plans, Georgia voters would have to approve the tax hike in 2010 as a constitutional amendment. The Senate measure requires local officials to craft a list of potential projects that local residents would consider, while the House proposal includes a lengthy list of specific projects across the state.