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Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Transportation Issues? FSU’s Planning Team Wants To Know – Fort White Community Center – Thursday 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Food (free) provided by Horsepower Kitchen food truck.

Project Manager Eliza Chase and Goodwill Ambasador Sabrina Viteri
FSU's Project Manager Eliza Chase and Goodwill Ambasador Sabrina Viteri are planners looking to hear from Columbia County and High Springs residents.  |  Columbia County Observer photo & graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Federal Government is financing a Rural Regional Transportation Plan (RRTP) grant to study transportation issues in Columbia County. FSU’s graduate community planning students are doing the work and heavy lifting for the plan development. The federal funding is being funneled through the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Marcus Thompkins and Nick Rodi
FSU student planners Marcus Thompkins (left) and Nick Rodi were meeting the community this past Sunday at the Famer's Market at Rum 138 in South Columbia County.

The plan narrative says, “Florida's rural communities are unique, and their residents have their own vision of their needs regarding the design, safety, mobility, and economic development potential of transportation improvements, which are often distinct from those of urban areas.”

Alex Lammers, graduate student planner
Have a suggestion about transportation design, like safe bike paths, planner Alex Lammers wants to hear from you.

The narrative continues, “To implement the Florida Transportation Plan, Florida DOT, Office of Policy Planning, has dedicated staff resources to better understand rural community visions and preferences. As these communities engage in planning activities, including the Rural Regional Transportation Plan (RRTP) process, it is essential that their transportation needs are understood so that their interests can be integrated into these plans.”

Willow Michie and Mary Noonan
Have a hot spot that is under your nails, Willow Michie (left) and Mary Noonan want to hear from you.

The plan's purpose is "to understand how FDOT can better engage with residents of rural communities and neighborhoods" and to integrate and implement the public’s visions into FDOT’s Rural Regional Transportation plans.

Over half of Florida's Counties are rural counties. It is unclear why FDOT has not figured out how to engage with rural counties until now.

Camden Jenkins, graduate student planner and jingle writer
Have some thoughts about transportation and economic development, Camden Jenkins is your planner. He also writes jingles.

In Columbia County and North Central Florida, the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council is responsible for some regional transportation planning. It has proven itself to be useless and an impediment to any kind of substantive transportation planning in its rural footprint.

FSU Planners: What do they want to know?

If you have observations and ideas about traffic hot spots, they want to know.

If you have ideas about bike paths, pedestrian walkways, sidewalks, street lights, or congestion in Columbia County or, in the case of US 27 – SR 20, which runs between Fort White and High Springs, they want to know.

FSU's Melbin Joseph wants you to know about mobility
If you have a mobility question or don't know what mobility is, Melbin Joseph wants to hear from you.

Representatives from High Springs and Alachua County should be on hand to enlighten the planners and FDOT about the traffic congestion between Fort White and High Springs.

With the increased development just across the Santa Fe River into High Springs and the planned 104-unit Gwynn Farms – Rocky Ford subdivision in Fort White, traffic congestion along the Fort White – High Springs corridor is on track to get a lot worse.

Dale Williams with FSU's Dennis Smith and NCFRPC's Scott Koons
FSU's first event in Lake City was a bust with only 9 attendees and one from from the pubilc. Columbia County's former County Manager Dale Williams, now an unregistered professional lobbyist for North Florida Professional Services was in attendence, along with NFPS President Greg Bailey. Scott Koons, head of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, also attended. (Photo-left to right: Scott Koons, FSU's Dennis Smith, Planner in residence and former FDOT employee, Dale Williams, Greg Bailey (standing), and a citizen. +++ Click photo to enlarge

Now is your chance to weigh in, be heard, and eat some food truck food.

FSU's graduate student planners have been pounding the pavement to inform the public about their chance to weigh in and be heard as Columbia County grows.

You can tell them what you think on Thursday evening, between 6:30 and 8:30 pm at the Fort White Community Center. You will also be able to share your ideas with members of the Fort White Town Council, Ft. White Mayor Frazier, County Commissioner Everett Phillips, and possibly other Columbia County public officials.

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