Rep. Gingrey spoke with those in attendance about issues facing the country and the 11th Congressional District, instructed attendees on how to comment on issues facing their communities on www.AmericaSpeakingOut.com and presented Congressional recognition for military service to a local citizen.
The floor was then opened for questions, which covered a variety of topics from healthcare to the economy, among others. CORR was able to ask Rep. Gingrey his position on the state’s proposed route for the 411 Connector – see transcript of his answer below.
To share your disapproval of Route D-VE’s waste of state and federal tax dollars with Congressman Gingrey and other House Republicans, visit www.AmericaSpeakingOut.com and click the Fiscal Accountability tab.
If you are interested in attending future events, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcript of 411 Connector Q&A:
Congressman Gingrey: Miles north of here in our district, the Georgia Department of Transportation is proposing to spend at least $184 million of taxpayer money on the U.S. 411 Connector, a road that links Rome to I-75. Based on your knowledge about the road, what is your position about the state’s proposed route?
[When I was campaigning…I went to] Bartow and Floyd, the cities of Cartersville and Rome, and asked what their number one, number two, number three concerns were and if I were blessed with the opportunity to represent them, what did they want me to accomplish? What did they most want me to accomplish?
That 411 Connector (all of you may not be familiar with it), but as you go from here to Rome, Georgia, it’s almost impossible to get through Bartow County and downtown Cartersville – because there’s no direct access. Unfortunately, it’s not just you and your family… maybe your youngsters playing little league ball up in Chattooga. It’s big 18 wheelers and a lot of heavy, heavy equipment – that sort of thing on that road and also having to negotiate the current terms because there is no interchange directly between state road 411, and I-75. So that’s what this issue is all about.
The folks in Northwest Georgia have been wanting this connector for 30-something years! I think it goes way back to Congressman Davis. There have been a number of members of Congress representing the area, but we’re talking literally 30 years ago. Members of the Georgia General Assembly – Democrats and Republicans – under different governors have tried to make that happen.
So when I got to Washington, I realized that President Bush had a fast track authority for certain transportation projects across the country. In that particular year, 2003 (I think), there were eight to 10 [projects]. In fact, the rebuilding of a transportation infrastructure at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan was one of those projects.
Indeed this 411 Connector – because of my great staff and the concerns of people in Northwest Georgia in the 11th Congressional District – we were able to get that project listed as one that was going to be fast tracked. We were able to get a commitment from federal Department of Transportation of $25 million to go towards that project to begin the purchase of right-of-way.
So the federal government, along with DOT, the Georgia Department of Transportation, studied the route, and I think there was something like eight different routes that were suggested. There were public hearings, public input, number crunching and the engineers ultimately decided on – I think it’s Route D (of the eight). At that point, my input into it was just making sure that we got the record of decision passed and the environmental impact studies done. But as far as route selection, I had no clue as to what they would select – and shouldn’t.
And so I am very disappointed, and this maybe is the crux of your question, the very wealthy family that owns some of the land along that route, right-of-way, I think they have a [quote signals] farm that maybe they go to once or twice a year.
But this is a very, very wealthy family that has been trying to block this for over 30 years, and once again, they’re doing everything they can to stop this.
I will continue to try to fulfill my pledge to the people of Northwest Georgia in the 11th Congressional district, and God willing will see cars on that interchange before I’m called to my greater glory. So thank you for that question. I really appreciate it.
Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) attended a Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) public forum in Cartersville last week about federally-funded projects, which includes the 411 Connector in Bartow County.
It was apparent that GDOT hoped to have as low attendance as possible, posting a public notice in the local paper only two days prior. They were ultimately successful, yet CORR was able to have several members protest GDOT’s proposed route for the connector and secure local media coverage of the event. CORR members were able to ask questions of GDOT, but unfortunately most were met with short answers, “I don’t know,” or “We don’t have that information.”
Local political candidates Tracy Bennett and Dan Ledford also stopped by to speak with CORR members. Both Bennett and Ledford are vocal supporters of an alternate route (Route G) and support CORR’s overall mission.
CORR will continue to attend any public GDOT meetings to register our opposition to Route D-VE. If you are interested in getting involved or attending future events, please contact us at email@example.com.
More than 30 CORR members, dressed in red and wearing stickers touting “There’s Another Way” and “Stop D-VE,” were a noticeable presence to both the GDOT board and others in attendance. Despite repeated attempts, CORR was stonewalled from being on the meeting’s agenda to voice concerns and worries about GDOT’s proposed route for the connector.
Fortunately, David Doss, state transportation board member for District 11 and Gerald Ross, GDOT chief engineer/deputy commissioner, agreed to meet with CORR members after the meeting. The group asked several pointed, hard, technical questions which had Ross notably disturbed from the outset, rolling his eyes at CORR members’ questions and interrupting members before they could finish a question. After 20 minutes or so of intense questioning, Mr. Ross stormed out of the room in dramatic fashion. However, Doss continued discussions with CORR, although many questions were met with “I don’t have that information in front of me,” or “I don’t know.”
CORR realizes that both Mr. Doss and Mr. Ross have extremely busy schedules, and we – both as a group and individually – appreciate the time and attention our concerns were given. Nevertheless, the facts still don’t add up, and the explanations given do not justify wasting millions of tax dollars and the environmental destruction that Route D-VE will bring to Bartow County.