The Union Recorder

April 3, 2013

Regional transportation program not happening

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder


A proposed Regional Transportation Program initiative through the Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC) wanted to pool state resources to provide more efficient rural transport services. 

Bob Rochelle, on behalf of the MGRC, informed the Baldwin County Commissioners of some bad news Tuesday. Formerly, the Regional Commission had been the prime contractor with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) for the provision of transport throughout the region.

“We viewed that as an integral part of being able to coordinate with the county rural transit system,” Rochelle said. “We were just informed two weeks ago that as of July 1 we would no longer be the prime contractor for that service, which in effect kills our mobility management program.”

The Macon Transit Authority is the new administrator selected by DHS. 

The Regional Commission has challenged the ruling, but the outlook for a Middle Georgia regional mobility system is poor. Rochelle said that system would help Baldwin County offset the costs within its Section 5311 Rural Transport program.

“I wanted to bring that to your attention because Baldwin County is in effect our most advanced county in regards to looking at that as a viable option,” Rochelle said.

County manager Ralph McMullen said the MGRC had no idea the state agencies were planning on pulling out.

“They turned on this program,” McMullen said.

Sammy Hall, District 3, stated that the current county transport program is one of the most inefficient programs operating.

“Why can’t we figure out one way to work together,” Hall said. “You see our transportation bus going across the river, and you see one of the other ones coming back with one person on it.”

The MGRC’s initiative was one of three pilot state programs looking to tackle that issue. Rochelle contributed the pull out to turf wars.

“Various state agencies just want to control and look out for their portion of those programs,” he said.

Other regions have consolidated multiple rural transport programs for government cost saving, according to Rochelle.

Hall asked if a discussion with the governor would help. A governor’s report in 2012 suggested program consolidation to develop these discussed regional systems.

“We aren’t seeing the buy in on behalf of the state agencies that are very critical in making this happen,” Rochelle said.

• FAA grant for airport improvements

As of Aug. 21, 2012, the county received notice of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dollars totaling $243,608 in reserve for airport facility improvements. The board approved for the chairman to execution the grant application document for three main projects.

These include surface crack seal and re-marking the airport, addition of obstruction lights on the east end of the runway and the move of a utility pole from the approach on the east end.

Total cost of the various fees and construction is $189,829. The county match is just more than $5,000.

The county’s overseeing engineer Doug Hawkins said he’d like to see this done by the end of the fiscal year citing federal sequestration issues.

“They’ve already contacted us and said well if we can’t get this done we will take these funds and move them over here,” McMullen said. “We want to try and take advantage of this money.”

• Bids for Phase 3-landfill acquisition

The Union Hill Church Road municipal solid waste landfill phase 3 requests for bids documentation have been prepared. The board has time to edit the documents before advertised.

“I feel we need to proceed soon to get this proposal out there,” McMullen said. 

The county manager wants to spread the word to solid waste vendors before and during the 2013 ACCG Annual Meeting and Commissioners Training April 27 through 29. The commission wants to solicit bids to sell the stagnant landfill asset.

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