We’ve talked a lot about growth, or the lack of it, in Rome and Floyd County over the last couple of years. If you were to gauge growth by traffic, you’d think Rome was a boom town of the highest magnitude.

Traffic is crazy in Rome.

My disdain for lines of any variety is well documented, so it will come as no surprise to you that I counted the number of vehicles I was behind at the light on Shorter Avenue at Horseleg Creek on Wednesday afternoon.

Would you believe 27!

What is remarkable is that it has always seemed the lights on Rome’s major arteries were timed to favor the flow on those arteries. I thought to myself, how in the world can the darn light stay red long enough for 27 vehicles to back up!

I was sitting in Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord’s office earlier that day talking about SPLOSTs when he said he’d always thought a totally transportation-related SPLOST might be a good idea.

Before you jump the gun, this was NOT any kind of specific conversation. We were both just talking out loud.

Remember that, years ago, Floyd County voters and their brethren across Northwest Georgia rejected the idea of a regional transportation SPLOST.

For some reason, transportation SPLOSTs are not real popular in this neck of the woods. We did pass a SPLOST that included funds for the Armuchee Connector. That has been a huge help to traffic flow on the north side of Rome.

The best thing about SPLOSTs for transportation is that when the community is funding a project with 100% local funds, we don’t have to jump through all of the federal hoops.

My environmentalist friends just cringed, and to some extent I can understand why. On the other hand, completing a federal Environmental Impact Study is both expensive and time consuming.

Most of the time, it does not turn up a significant impediment to a project. Sometimes it does, more often than not when a water crossing is required. Endangered and threatened species should be protected, but I believe that can be accomplished without all of the time and money that federal aid for highway projects requires.

So just what do we need in Rome and Floyd County?

The first thing is camera-activated signals at 90% of the intersections inside the city limits. Timing is just so off at so many intersections.

Chief McKinney and staff please skip this paragraph. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run the light at East First Street and East Sixth Avenue. Coming from my office into town I get stopped at that light several times EVERY day. It stays green for traffic on East First Street an inordinate amount of time. I’ll sit and sit and sit, with no traffic on East First Street whatsoever, until I finally make the decision to burst through.

Another light that is obscenely long is at East First Street and East Second Avenue. I understand you want to move traffic on East Second Avenue, which is part of Ga. 101. I have NOT run that light.

So let’s get camera-activated lights.

The next thing we’ve got to figure out is how to get more cars across our rivers, in a manner that actually facilitates where they are going.

That, my friends, is tricky.

County Manager McCord would like to figure out a way to extend Hicks Drive in East Rome across the Etowah and tie it in to Ga. 53 at Five Points. That might require a mega-bridge because you’d have to cross a Norfolk Southern Rail line on the north side of the river.

That would also require permission from the railroad, and there’s also a lot of commercial activity right in that area. So that’s darn near an impossibility.

Another east-west bridge across the Oostanaula that could link up with Three Mile Road and get folks from Ga. 53 across U.S. 27 near the mall would be helpful.

I’ve always liked the idea of a bridge across the Etowah from the Riverbend shopping center to align with East Fourth Avenue.

I think I just lost a few friends on East Fourth Avenue. Two of them are moving so perhaps I can deal with the others. It’s not like that’s ever going to happen anyway.

We reported recently about plans for a new privately owned industrial park off Huffaker Road out near Fouche Gap Road. If that becomes a reality we’ve got to improve Huffaker all the way around to Evans Store. I’m not sure if that would require making it a four lane but it would surely needed to be widened.

That should become the northwest leg of the bypass around Rome anyway. As is, dumping the bypass into Garden Lakes is crazy.

I’m sure readers have a lot of ideas about transportation needs as well. I’d love to hear them and I’m sure our elected officials would like to hear them as well. I’m not talking fix the potholes here, I’m talking new ways to get people around and through our town.

Rome is going to grow, I’m confident of that. We’ve got to figure out a way to improve traffic flow. Thoughts of a live-work-play community are nice but they’re not going to solve our REAL transportation issues.

Associate Editor and business columnist Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. To contact Doug, email him at DWalker@RN-T.com or call 706-290-5272.

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