February 19, 2016 10:32 AM
Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash cited five attributes that contribute to the success of the county in her annual State of the County address on Thursday, including its schools, a quality public safety services, amenities such as parks and libraries, and the county’s investment in water infrastructure. But for many in attendance, it was her comments on the fifth attribute, transportation, that drew the most attention.
Addressing the need to improve mobility while maintaining existing transportation systems, Nash said,
We need to improve our roadways, not just for our passenger trips, but also for movement of freight, especially as the county sees more truck traffic originating from the Port of Savannah. In addition, we have more demand for transit service, and growing interest in walkability and bikeways. There is a lot to consider as the county develops its updated comprehensive transportation plan. That plan will be a guide for our transportation investments for the next 25 years.
Pressure to deal with the issue of transit in the county has increased as several high profile companies, including State Farm and Mercedes Benz, decided to locate in north Fulton county in part because of the availability of MARTA. 2015 saw a survey commissioned by the Gwinnett Chamber that showed support for transit, and a weeklong event called the Gr8Exchange tried to get Gwinnett residents to discuss transportation alternatives.
Nash, who announced this week she is running for re-election in November, has indicated a desire to get past the election and a vote on renewing the county’s SPLOST program before tackling the transit issue. Waiting until the transportation plan is complete provides another reason to wait.
Yet, Nash may face Democratic competition. Jack Snyder, the founder of an organization called “Gwinnett Needs Mass Transit” has indicated he will qualify to run for Commission chair during qualifying the week of March 7th. And, Rep. Pedro Marin, who represents Norcross in the southern part of the county, filed a resolution in the House urging the Board of Commissioners to study transit options.
Work on the transportation plan update began last summer, and will conclude a year from now. As part of the process, the Gwinnett DOT will conduct a series of informational meetings in March where residents those interested can share their ideas. The meeting schedule and more information is available on the county’s website.