Public Meeting 11/17-Highway 80/City of Tybee (Bike/Walking/Running Lanes) We need runners & cyclists to attend)

I would like to see some pathways leading underneath highway that allow turtles safe passage from one side of the highway to the other

I would like to see some pathways leading underneath highway that allow turtles safe passage from one side of the highway to the other

Here is an important note from Christina Dolan, an environmental specialist with Ecological Planning Group regarding the proposed expansion of highway 80 to Tybee Island.

Please try to make this meeting if possible and let your voice be heard whether in sport or against.

Thanks.

Dan

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From: Christina Dolan [mailto:tcdolan2@yahoo.com]

Subject: Public Meeting 11/17-Highway 80/City of Tybee

Hello all-

On Tuesday November 17th, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) will be hosting an open house from 4-6 pm at the Tybee City Hall to seek public comments regarding the proposed changes to Highway 80, including the planned replacements of both Bull River and Lazaretto Creek bridges.  (You may attend at any time during those hours. There will be no formal presentation.)   The public notice is attached and may also be viewed athttp://www.dot.ga.gov/BS/Projects/SR26US80. If you can’t make the meeting, GDOT will accept public comments through December 1, 2015.  If you have questions for GDOT or wish to submit comments, please see the attached file for the appropriate GDOT contact.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the proposed expansion of Highway 80 and replacements of these bridges leading to Tybee Island.  Obviously this is controversial in nature and everybody has their own ideas of what should/shouldn’t happen.  Some people want a 4-lane, some don’t, some want the bridges replaced, some don’t, etc.  With the recent accident on Highway 80, there’s been more public scrutiny regarding this project and some recent articles in the newspaper.  The quick summary of the project (as least as far as I know, but I’m certainly not an authority on this subject) is that GDOT is currently considering improvements to Highway 80 and replacing both Bull River and Lazaretto Creek Bridges (info below from the MPO study that explains this in greater detail).

If you have an opinion on this subject, please consider coming to the meeting and/or submitting comments to GDOT.  It’s important that GDOT hear from a variety of different citizens and organizations to understand what there is, and isn’t, public support for with regards to this project.

I’m attaching some information below about this project to give you some background information that is available to the public.  In case you are wondering what my affiliation with this project is, I work for Ecological Planning Group (EPG), a private environmental consulting firm.  I am not affiliated with GDOT (or the City of Tybee) nor am I trying to start a petition or anything of that nature-I’m simply sharing that this meeting is happening and inviting those that may be interested to voice their opinions, whatever those may be.

My company, EPG, has been assisting Chatham County with trail design and planning efforts to provide more walking/biking trails in this area.  Extending the existing McQueens Islands trail to Tybee Island has long been a dream of various organizations and planning efforts in this area for quite some time (as well as mine, frankly, both from a personal and professional standpoint), but it has always been hampered by various impediments, including the bridges leading to Tybee Island, what will/won’t happen with Highway 80, and obviously by the expense and environmental implications associated with trail development, land acquisition, etc.    With the  GDOT’s proposed plan to replace the bridges leading to Tybee Island, it does open up opportunities in the near future to connect the existing McQueens trail (by extending it across Fort Pulaski-owned lands) to the new/future Lazaretto Creek Bridge (which is currently proposed to include a separated path on the side for bikes/walkers), making the “dream” to more safely bike/walk from Wilmington Island to Tybee Island more feasible.

If GDOT sees that there is public support for a separate walking/biking path leading to Tybee Island (and not just relying on paved shoulders adjacent to the road for biking whenever they make improvements-whatever those may be-to Highway 80 and the Bridges), it stands a greater chance of becoming a reality.

Whatever your feelings about the proposed project may be, I invite you to take the time to consider what you would like to see happen with this project and submit your comments to GDOT and/or attend the public meeting.

Below is some additional information that you can use to research the history of this project, if you want to know more.

Background Information-CORE MPO Study

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (CORE MPO) conducted a planning study from 2010-2012 to examine the needs and possible alternatives for this corridor and GDOT is using the results/recommendations from the MPO’s study as a baseline for their ongoing planning efforts. The MPO study, titled US 80 Bridges Replacement Study, is available at http://www.thempc.org/Transportation/US80BridgesStudy.html.  There is a 3-page executive summary that you can read that summarizes the study’s scope and results.

The MPO’s study recommended “Alternative 3” as the best option for moving forward (and this is what GDOT is currently planning), which included replacing the existing bridges (w/2 lane bridges with an 10-foot barrier separated path and 10’ bikable shoulders); roadway improvements (widening existing road to accommodate a 10-foot paved bikable shoulder-which could act as an evacuation lane in event of an emergency); road restriping to allow for left and right turn lanes; and construction of an 18-space parking area at the entrance to McQueen’s Island Trail.

An earlier proposal for a 4-lane road expansion w/bikable shoulders was not approved and is not currently being evaluated by GDOT at this time as far as known.

Thanks for your time.  Your voice and opinions (whatever those may be)-counts-

Christina Dolan
Environmental Specialist
(912) 604-2871
Ecological Planning Group, LLC
http://www.ecologicalplanning.net<http://www.ecologicalplanning.net/>

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