Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 28, 2012

Slow progress in District raises concerns

City works to resurface roads, build sidewalks with limited funds

VALDOSTA — Valdosta’s District 1 is set to receive two new sidewalks and have four streets resurfaced, but some residents believe these have been too long in coming and had hoped to see more improvements.

The Valdosta City Council approved two separate plans at its Nov. 15 regular meeting — one for sidewalks funded by SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and another for streets to be paved with Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant dollars, funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

But the resurfacing project plans improvements to less than half a mile of community streets and about 4,700 feet of sidewalks along two roads. City Manager Larry Hanson said a tight budget is partially to blame.

“When we passed the SPLOST referendum in 2008, the city expected to have $72 million in the next year, but that estimated $72 million ended up being $52 million,” Hanson said. “That’s $20 million less than we projected, so we had to reduce the number of projects.”

In addition to coming up short on SPLOST to fund sidewalks and other municipal projects, often these projects involve more than “just sidewalks,” Hanson said; they require the retro-fitting or relocation of utilities, the installation of curb and gutter and other challenges.

“You can’t just pour a sidewalk two feet off the road without curb and gutter,” Hanson said. “It takes more time and more money and more design to retro-fit older neighborhoods with sidewalks. It’s just not that simple.”

In other districts seeing near-constant construction to erect new buildings and repair old real estate, the builders themselves are responsible for the installation of sidewalks, Hanson said, not the city.

“Sidewalks are usually paid for by the private developer putting in the new development,” Hanson said. “That’s the way it’s been done for the past 20 years.”

Older communities that were established prior to this plan fall under the responsibility of the city government, which is the other problem, according to Hanson. Areas not seeing continued development require government dollars that are difficult to come by these days, especially since 100 percent of these capital improvement projects are funded through SPLOST.

The SPLOST VII referendum was turned down Nov. 6, but the city will have an opportunity to list it again next November, after a 12-month waiting period required by Georgia statutes. The city has no say in whether SPLOST will appear on the off-season ballot; the Lowndes County Commission is the only government entity that can officially call for the referendum, Hanson said.

Resurfacing projects are another issue. The city must submit a list of streets in need of improvement, and GDOT will assess which have the greatest need before choosing to dole out grant dollars through the LMIG program, Hanson said, and most do not qualify.

“We’ll submit 30 streets, assuming we’ll get 13,” Hanson said. “Say we turn in Slater Street, and the DOT evaluates it, and they say it’s borderline. They pick the ones that meet their criteria.”

The typical life of a city street is about 20 years, or 15 to be safe. Of the 283 miles of city streets in Valdosta, 12.82 miles of resurfacing have been purchased since 2011, including the pending projects, Hanson said. This mileage must be spread city-wide to address multiple issues.

The need is apparent and constant, said District 1 Councilman James Wright, especially among his constituents. While Woodlawn Drive and East Brookwood Place may not display “cow trails” — those footpaths worn into the grass by pedestrians — residents often walk in the streets themselves.

“There’s not any cow trails you see there because the children walk in the road,” Wright said. “The wheelchairs, the people in the community, they have to travel in the streets. When you walk around, you have to walk in somebody’s yard or in the street along the white line. There’s a real need, not only in this community, but in other areas.”

Wright raised concerns in previous council meetings about this need not being addressed, so he is glad to see whatever improvements are made to the area, he said. No matter how big or how small the mileage.

“You won’t hear me fuss about it because any progress is better than none at all,” Wright said. “We will always want more, but I am satisfied.”

Text Only
Local News
  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • N0041120.jpg Passover: A nation reborn

    “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage.” — The Passover Hagadah

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-DFCS001.jpg Luncheon recognizes DFACS employees

    Dozens of Lowndes County Division of Family and Children Services employees gathered Monday at Olympic Park for a barbecue lunch in recognition of their hard work.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-Sewage002.jpg Fla. calls for Valdosta boycott

    Florida residents are calling for a boycott of Valdosta regarding the sewage spills, with areas affected downstream increasingly distressed over the millions of gallons that have polluted the waters of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee River Basin during the last several years.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • police-lights-backgrounds-for-powerpoint.jpg ‘Dangerous’ fugitive caught

    A fugitive from Ohio wanted for attempted murder and a number of assault and robbery charges was captured by Valdosta police Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results