Recently, the Newnan City Council and the Coweta County Commission held planning retreats on the same day, illustrating both the importance of the exercise and a missed opportunity.
The fact that both bodies held retreats at all shows that the members recognize the value of getting out of the office for a period of uninterrupted discussion on major issues. However, a missed opportunity was the chance for both boards to sit down together and hash out matters that impact them jointly, such as cooperation on fire coverage, the proposed network of walking trails, land use and transportation.
Each of the panels devoted some time to transportation during the respective retreats. For instance, Commissioners Paul Poole and Bob Blackburn said they want the state to speed the widening of Ga. Hwy. 154, and Commissioner Rodney Brooks pined for state construction of the Interstate 85 interchange at Amlajack Boulevard. Of course, wishing another agency would take action is not the same as attacking issues the county can do something about. Commissioner Tim Lassetter did mention a desire for resurfacing and repairing local bridges and overpasses.
The commissioners proposed two tactics: one, a reorganization of departments that handle engineering and road building, and two, a city-county task force to better lobby the state. Both proposals are constructive, even if their impact is likely to be limited.
At the city council’s retreat, the transportation talk focused on the widening of Lower Fayetteville Road and the coming construction of the McIntosh Parkway. These are also worthy projects, and their impact is likely to be considerable.
There will be a joint meeting in May among leaders of the county and all of the Coweta cities to agree on projects to be financed by the next six-year installment of the local sales tax, should voters approve it this fall. Let’s hope that next month’s meeting is not isolated to divvying up the spoils but instead is a moment for developing long-range coordination to address current congestion and avoiding it in the future as Coweta’s population doubles in the next decade.
Transportation is undoubtedly the most pressing issue, one that can’t be solved over night. So, farsighted planning and cooperation is vital.