Athens for Everyone members, Pinewoods residents, Commissioner Kelly Girtz, and others concerned about transportation options along US highway 29 assembled in the Pinewoods Library last week. A4E President Tim Denson explained our plan to extend bus service along US29 all the way out to the county line, and slightly beyond to the Veteran’s Clinic in Madison County.
The total distance of the proposed extension is only 2.5 miles according to Google maps, and would take roughly 10-15 minutes round trip with time for stops included. In exchange for the 5 service miles added per trip, we would provide access to two churches, the Department of Driver Services (DDS), the VA clinic, and we would give residents of Pinewoods and Country Corners much needed mobility. There are no sidewalks or bike lanes along US29, but at our Town Hall, we heard several stories of people walking or biking to Kroger despite the personal risk.
In a recent survey, Athens for Everyone found that 90% of Pinewoods residents say they are not always able to get around easily. 85% felt that bus service to Pinewoods is extremely important to them and their families.
The VA clinic currently has a volunteer van that shuttles veterans back and forth, but at the cost of volunteer hours and inconvenience that could more easily be shouldered by Athens Transit, which already has routes active in the area (routes #1 and #24).
Lastly, the DDS being located in a remote part of the county makes it difficult for some to obtain needed documentation including, ironically, drivers licenses. Considering the relatively short distance involved and potential benefit to be gained, Athens for Everyone feels that this route extension should take first priority when considering transit improvements in the future, as Tim explained at the Town Hall.
When a Pinewoods resident wondered how he could contact his commissioner about this topic, Commissioner Kelly Girtz pleasantly surprised the audience by standing up and introducing himself!
It turns out that some people there didn’t recognize him, but they do now. Girtz spoke of the potential for transit improvements via extra money from the upcoming T-SPLOST. He also left some business cards, encouraging everyone there to contact him with questions or if they need help in the future. This might have been the first time for some Pinewoods residents to have ever met a County official, and Athens for Everyone is very grateful to Commissioner Girtz for attending. Thank you!
Aida Quiñones, Manager of the Pinewoods Library, and Beto Mendoza, A4E Board member, also addressed the crowd. As the meeting drew to a close, Tim encouraged everyone to attend the next Athens Transit Public Input Session, which takes place on Tuesday, February 9th from 1:30pm – 3:00pm and 5:00pm – 6:30pm.
Chris Dowd, A4E Secretary
February 3rd, 2016
The Transit Town Hall event took place on January 27th at the Pinewoods Library.