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.