Thursday, July 3, 2008

Political and Transportation News

Some local political and transportation news you shouldn't miss:

1) Paul Broun is claiming that he has saved the USDA's Phil Campbell Agricultural Research Center in Watkinsville. I really hope this is the case, as the center and the greenspace it provides is great for the community. I have not heard positive reports about this from anyone other than Rep. Broun.

2) Senator Bill Cowsert has been named one of Governor Perdue's floor leaders in the Senate. As I said in my earlier post, the level of promise and potential Cowsert has -- and the respect he gets from his colleagues -- make him the easy choice in the upcoming primary vote. While I don't always agree with the Governor and his laid back approach to governing, this is a significant assignment for Sen. Cowsert. Athens paper covers it here.

3) Well, nobody has officially notified the city of Watkinsville (despite our financial participation in the project), but the Oconee Enterprise is reporting that the Mars Hill widening project is moving forward. I have decidedly mixed emotions about this effort. Frankly, I have zero interest in seeing the whole corridor "opened up to commercial development" as the article says. Just what we need: another sprawling route full of strip malls, poorly planned commercial (see the recent Auto Zone and attendant shopping area at Butler's Crossroads for a good example of this) and the occasional subdivision entrance. While the road needs some improvements, the track record of GDOT road expansions ever being viable routes for cyclists and pedestrians (and for having any redeeming aesthetic value) is not good. We have been working hard to make sure the stretch in the Watkinsville city limits is designed and handled in a quality way that respects the existing business and institutions in the community while addressing traffic needs.

Bottom line, if there is one thing Oconee needs, it is stronger aesthetic planning guides governing the appearance of commercial and office buildings on commercial corridors. Extensive landscaping, buffers, brick buildings, hidden or buried power lines, generous sidewalks, street trees, landscaped (rather than concrete) medians should all be the norm for any road widenings. Lets hope "the new" Mars Hill includes these features.


Ashley said...

I hope they do save the research center. We went out there for Leadership Oconee, and they have some interesting programs under way. Plus, it's one of the few agri-research centers that offers soil, water management and wildlife management all in one place so that researchers can do integrated studies. And, lastly, if they decided to put an Applebee's out there instead, I would have a conniption fit.

Johnathan said...

Interesting take on Mars Hill. I didn’t’ realize it had been approved for widening.

Fleming might have hurt himself with the attacks on Broun, and the Franklin County chair of his campaign resigning, and I think Broun will win re-election. He’ll roll through Northeast Georgia and get probably 25 to 35 percent in Augusta based on name recognition. A moderate Democrat could beat him down there with the right framing of the issues – along the lines of what Fleming has done recently (his libertarian ideology ties him into inaction for constituents) – and I had high hopes for Saxon, but I think he’s slowed on fundraising.

Brian said...

Will be interesting to see on Fleming v. Broun. I don't have a good feel for the race. Seems like Paul will need a strong turnout in NEGA on a primary to have a chance against the Augusta machine.

Kevin said...

Broun has a lot of nerve to campaign against earmarks, then rely on other members of congress to work through back channels to save the Ag research center and then still claim he is above earmarks. He may not have specifically requested those funds be included in that budget, but other people did (and he would have us believe they did it on his behalf?--I guess). What is the difference then.

Brian said...

Being anti-earmark is good for campaigning, but in practice is a terrible idea. It just means your district is always going to get the short end of the stick unless others commit to the same principles. Hopefully he is starting to realize that.

Anonymous said...

If the Campbell Center is saved, I don't think Rep. Broun will have anything to do with it! When you are known for being against earmarks, those writing the budget are more than willing to find targets in your district and eliminate that funding. That's especially true if the opposing party is writing the budget and approps bills! If the Campbell Center is to remain funded (I give it 30-70 shot), it will be due to the Senators. But, I would then suspect Chambliss would compromise to close the Campbell Center to get the bio-hazard facility.