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Time to invest in alternative transportation?

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POSTED: August 7, 2014 3:06 p.m.
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Jeff Whitten writes for the Bryan County News.

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This week’s poll on bryancountynews.net asks a simple question.
Would you support tax dollars going toward funding alternative forms of transportation, such as greenways or commuter rail?
Define greenways loosely as links between communities that people can use to bike or walk or jog to get from one place to the other.  Commuter rail is self-explanatory. The poll asks folks to choose yes or no.
My guess is most will say no because they already pay enough in taxes.
But this isn’t about new taxes. This is about what we already pay for transportation. And we pay a lot.
Georgia taxpayers contribute hundreds of millions of dollars annually through various taxes for transportation. In our world, that generally means roads. It means asphalt. It means little by little we’re turning into Atlanta or Jacksonville.
But it doesn’t have to.
There are efforts afoot to make our communities more pedestrian and bike friendly. They just need to be made a priority, or at least given the same consideration by transportation planners as wider roads and turn lanes and median cuts.
Still, Richmond Hill is reportedly working on a master plan for sidewalks, which will help those who prefer to walk or pedal and connect neighborhoods to shopping and restaurants and schools.
Savannah in 2013 was named a Bicycle Friendly Community, and not long ago a writer for the Athens Banner-Herald editorialized that maybe the traditional objections to nontraditional methods of transportation are waning, as if the bicycle were a new invention and automobiles something we’ve had for centuries.  
But he was right. Slowly, the times are changing. There’s the Atlanta Beltline, a conversion of old rail lines to walking and biking trails and places where folks can safely move about without having to get behind the wheel.
And there’s the Coastal Georgia Greenway, an apparently back-burnered plan to link cities like Savannah and Richmond Hill and Brunswick on a trail some 450 miles long.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much about it.
Maybe it’s time to dust it off and set it out where folks can take another look at it — and do it before we’re surrounded by pavement, not after.

 

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