By MARY MARTIN, Coalition for the Right Road, Cartersville
IN THE COLUMN, “Group of 13 ganging up on Rome,”(Rome News-Tribune, July 1) there were several statements that the Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) would like to correct about the U.S. 411 Connector project.
Make no mistake; GDOT’s proposed Route D-VE (when compared to its previously selected Route G) costs $110 million more, is 2.5 miles longer, requires stop lights and twice the amount of expensive bridges and overpasses, and destroys parts of the local environment.
Although the author claimed that Route D-VE was a “long thought-out route,” GDOT failed to study 1,000 linear feet of streams in the right of way, historic Dobbins Mine site and an adjacent mining site — the Milner-Harris property, proposed road cut at Dobbins Mountain for acidic rock and the potential for runoff into nearby streams, endangered plants in the Route D-VE project corridor and Dobbins Mountain for the endangered Indiana bat.
Further, it is inaccurate to say that we and the environmental groups are trying to deny Rome a road to I-75. Rome should have a road to I-75, but it should be the right route — not Route D-VE. The environmental groups and other entities that favor an alternative route have been studying GDOT’s ill-conceived Route D-VE for years. Not only have they hiked the route on Dobbins Mountain, but they have participated in briefings about the road, educated members, attended connector-related meetings and much more.
I found it interesting that the author purposely called out the Georgia Conservancy for its lack of opposition to other major road projects. However, it was the Georgia Conservancy that actually banded with Rome/Floyd County in the 1960s and 1970s (according to newspaper archives) to oppose the eastern route of I-75 due to cost and environmental concerns. The record shows that Romans wanted a more westerly route. When that didn’t happen, opponents from Rome stalled the interstate project for several years. Given this history, the author’s criticism of Route D-VE’s opponents begins to sound hypocritical.
The author also contends it is easy to be critical of “us up here — especially when you don’t have to travel our road.” But those who would advocate wasting $110 million of taxpayers’ money, years of legal delays when other options exist, and damaging your neighboring county’s environmental and historic resources make themselves easy targets for criticism. Also we know that thousands of local citizens have expressed their opposition to Route D-VE and support for a better, cheaper and more sensible route.
The fact is, CORR and its supporters have legitimate concerns about Route D-VE and will continue to work on finding an alternate route that saves taxpayers millions of dollars and preserves the environment.