Saturday, August 07, 2010

Oconee County Cycling Group Seeking Support from Land Use Committee for Signage

Reception Not Warm

There is a chance–though a slight one–that the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning will talk about bikes on county roadways when it meets on Tuesday night.

At its meeting on July 13, the committee voted to add a request from member Richard McSpadden that it discuss Share the Road signage as its next agenda item, once its finishes its ongoing discussion of the county courthouse.

At the meeting on Tuesday, the committee is scheduled to review for a third time a PowerPoint presentation prepared by County Strategic and Long-Range Planning Director Wayne Provost that the committee wants to show to the public.

The purpose of the presentation to the public will be to convince the public that the committee’s recommendation that the county build a separate judicial facility near the current county jail on Experiment Station road is a good one.

After a year of deliberation, the committee selected that option back on March 9 and plans to send its recommendation to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners after it has had its chance to tell the public about the recommendation.

Committee Chairman Abe Abouhamdan said at the July 13 meeting that he wants to give that public presentation at the September meeting. Then he would be willing to address the bike signage issue, but not before.

Biking has not had a warm reception from the Land Use and Transportation Committee in the past, and Abouhamdan made that point to McSpadden when McSpadden made his request.

The committee even discussed at its January 2009 meeting the possibility of asking the Board of Commissioners to ban bikes from some county roadways. That was before McSpadden was a member of the committee.

McSpadden, who said he sought appointment to the Land Use and Transportation Committee so he could represent biking interests, is president of the Oconee County Cycling Organization.

The organization is asking that the county install Share The Road signs on roads used by cyclists throughout the county and has identified four key roads it want to be the top priority.

These are Colham Ferry road from Watkinsville to Watson Spring Mill road, Simonton Bridge road from Watkinsville to the county line, New High Shoals road from U.S. 441 to SR 186, and Barnett Shoals road from Watkinsville to the county line.

McSpadden gave the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee a letter from the cycling organization asking the committee to endorse the signage request and recommend to the Board of Commissioners that the signs be installed.

Abouhamdan’s response was quick, indicating that the issue was complex, that the committee had spent a lot of time on bike issues in the past and would need a lot of time to consider the request, and that the committee had its plate full with the courthouse issue.

He also pointed out that the committee meets for only an hour each month, so it can only handle so many issues. Even though it is rare for the committee to have much more than a majority of its 14 members attend a meeting, discussion often is lengthy.

Provost chimed in that the county Public Works Department needs to be involved in any such discussions.

Finally, McSpadden made a motion that the request from the Oconee County Cycling Organization be the next item on the agenda once the courthouse was out of the way. Courtney Gail seconded the motion, and the motion passed.

According to McSpadden’s letter, the group would like to have four signs, two on each side of the road, on each of the four roadways identified. Total cost was estimated at $720, and the letter said the group “is ready to partner with the county to fund and install the signage.”

According to the letter, the Oconee County Cycling Organization is a local, non-profit group “dedicated to increasing bicycling safety and improving bicycling infrastructure in Oconee County.”

The Land Use and Transportation Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the community center in Veterans Park on Hog Mountain road.