In the News

Shuttle Service and Bike Paths " Article 9

This is the ninth in a series of articles about the visions developed for Early County during the recent charrette planning process held by Early County 2055. This week is part four of a look at transportation ideas that were developed.

The PlaceMakers' John M. Acken Jr. and Sr. developed a transportation study during the charette which provides insight into the area's transportation infrastructure. Their report includes 18 strategies for possible ways to utilize that infrastructure in the development of Early County's future.

The study begins with an overview of the region's transportation background which was reviewed in the June 28 Early County News. This week...

Iron Highway

A unique service originally developed by CSX and Canadian Pacific to move highway trailers over medium distances (300500 miles) in direct competition with highways. The iron highway train consists of a long string of flatcars with platforms between the cars enabling tractor trailers to load up circus style for movement between major traffic hubs. This type of service might have an application as an alternate route between Tallahassee and Atlanta via Bainbridge and Arlington, should the high speed Atlanta Tallahassee passenger service congest the currently proposed route.

The proposed iron highway would provide track maintenance employment in Early county and would provide a significantly upgraded rail line for movement of agriculture products on the eastern side of the county.

It could provide a major shift from highway to rail for interstate freight traffic.

Free Carpool to Industrial Site

During discussions with local residents, many mentioned that employees of local industries commute from other counties. To entice employees to live in Blakely and Early County, the County should work with employers to provide shuttle service from Blakely to major employers such as the Georgia Pacific paper mill.

The shuttle service would reduce commuting costs and eliminate the need for employees to have a car to commute. Total annual savings by not having to have a second car for commuting could be substantial and allow residents to increase savings and enjoy more discretionary income.

Commuting may also reduce auto dependence and therefore reduce automobile traffic and reduce the need to expand highway capacity over the long term.

The County would have to raise the funds to help in this effort which could be interpreted. The benefitting industries would also have to be willing to cooperate with the plan.


Bike Path Through Blakely Via Kolomoki Mounds

The Georgia State Bike Plan has designated routes along Highway 62, Spooner Quarter Road, Cedar Springs Road, Main Street and First Kolomoki Road. The routes are ideally located to link Blakely to the Georgia State Bike Plan. Kolomoki Mounds State Park is only 5 miles from Blakely making the park a great tourist destination and an easy bike ride.

The community should work with the Georgia Department of Transportation to make road improvements and provide bike rest areas along right of way. A bike race to Kolomoki Mounds state park could also prove to be an attractive event.

Private Jet Service

Currently south Georgia property is being purchased by out of state investors who use large tracts of land for hunting and other sports. To improve access to those plantations and attract more investors, it is recommended that the Blakely regional airport be improved to handle commercial business jets and that the fees from using the facility be used to build a first class private jet waiting room for customers.

Improving the airport will encourage out of state land owners to come to Blakely more often and spend more time in local establishments thereby helping the local economy.

A feasibility study should be conducted to determine work necessary to upgrade the airport for larger commercial business jets. Local airport, city, county and state must work together to improve the airport conditions.

Regional Airport

Once a passenger rail line links Dothan and Albany to Blakely, the Dothan and Albany airports could be combined into a new regional airport in Early County. By combing the two airports, enough ridership could be generated to merit flying to hubs other than Atlanta thereby improving air access for the entire region.

A regional airport would provide direct access to airports other than Atlanta thereby improving access to Early County from other regions.

Re-locating the Dothan and Albany airports to Early County in order to increase air service for the region would require a partnership with Alabama and major investment in land acquisition and new facilities. The rail line from Dothan to Blakely would have to be significantly upgraded to provide for regular rail service between the two cities. The residents of Early County would have to agree to the noise associated with a regional airport.

Next week: More about how PlaceMakers see transportation shaping Early County's future.

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