Residents have two chances next week to receive an update from transportation planners regarding long range plans for the Upstate.
Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study Staff will hold two meetings to present the update to the 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan and receive comments from attendees.
The Pickens County meeting will be held on Monday, August 27 at 6:30pm at the Central-Clemson Regional Branch library, located at 105 Commons Way in Central.
The Greenville County meeting will be held 6:30pm Tuesday, August 28 in Council Chambers at Greenville County Square, located at 301 University Ridge in Greenville.
The Long Range Transportation Plan includes a fiscally constrained and prioritized list of road projects to be completed in the next 25 years, based on current funding levels.
Each potential road project is evaluated by the GPATS Study Team, comprising local planners, and engineers, and other transportation professionals in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The LRTP must balance economic development goals and strategies with community investments. This balancing act involves cooperation at local, regional, state, and federal levels.
As high-priority road projects get closer to construction, they are moved from the Long Range Transportation Plan to the Transportation Improvement Program, which schedules funding for projects to be completed in the next six years.
Pickens County Council Chairman Jennifer Willis serves on the GPATS committee. She spoke to Patch about what she sees as transportation priorities for Pickens County.
"I think we need to make improvements on 183, improvements on 178, improvements on 123," Willis said. "If I had a pot of gold and a wish list, I've got a transportation list a mile long. Main priorities are opening up these highway corridors and making them safer. We've made intersection improvements along 178, which will certainly help with safety and traffic. If I had my magic wand, I'd four-lane 178, I'd four-land 183, I'd take 153 all the way around, I'd build the Southern Bypass on the other side of town and open it up for development on that side. I'd run 178 all the way to the Interstate so we had Interstate access."
"We need to utilize every opportunity we have, all the resources we have to do absolutely as much as we can with our transportation planning, and to get as comprehensive a plan as possible - and that's very difficult right now," Willis continued. "We receive funding for road planning from five different entities: GPATS for major roadways, each of the municipalities for the roads in their jurisdiictions, county road fees cover county roads, C-Funds, which is gas tax money that we get back and the Rural COG (Council of Goverments) also does transportation for the rural roads."
"That's five entities - and that's if you count the municipalities as one entity - that have a finger in the pie when it comes to road planning," Willis said. "Everybody has their own interests. I don't blame anybody for trying to look out for their community. That's what they were elected to do. I was elected to look out for Pickens County, which means I have to look out for the whole county. But that can be real challenging when we are as fractured as we are, so I hope we will to continue to do more to work together and find ways to better unify.
"We can take money for Rural Cog and do some work on 178, we can take money from GPATS and do some work on 178," she said. "Let's put all those pots of money and work as much as we can, as far as we can, as fast as we can."
Since Pickens County is a bedroom community for Greenville and Anderson, a larger percentage of the population will be traveling out of the county to work each day, Willis said.
"If they're going to do that, that means we need to make their lives as easy as possible, and that means opening those corridors - 183, 123," she said. "We keep it making it better, but just barely. We just can't keep up with the growth. People wander here and discover all the things we have and we keep growing and growing. And that's wonderful, but we can't take our dollars and get far enough ahead."
For more information on the meeting, call GPATS staff at 467-7270.