Cherokee County is currently working on a Comprehensive Transportation Plan Update (CTP) slated to be completed by the end of summer 2015. The plan addresses Cherokee County’s current and future transportation needs to help maintain a thriving community. The project, funded by the Atlanta Regional Commission, began in the summer of 2014 with the intentions of understanding changes in population, employment, land use, and development since the last Cherokee CTP in 2008. After understanding the existing and future conditions of the county, the project evaluates the goals, objectives, and needs of the transportation system in the county. The CTP explores innovative strategies to address transportation deficiencies and will help guide future transportation investments in the county. Eventually, the final CTP will include a funding strategy and a prioritized list of future SPLOST projects.
The plan includes a significant amount of public participation to help provide a comprehensive and effective update to the county’s transportation system. According to Cherokee County, the study area for the project includes all of Cherokee County and a three mile area outside of the county, in adjacent counties, to better promote a coordinated transportation plan. The study area is very diverse and likewise the project has sought a diverse group of individuals for public involvement to better understand local issues and potential impacts. The public involvement plan includes a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, Technical Advisory Committee, public open houses, and updates added to the county website which can be found HERE.
Specifically, the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) includes representatives from key transportation planning agencies, including James Touchton, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Council for Quality Growth, to provide guidance on technical aspects of the project. To view a list of the TAC members click HERE. The TAC also includes representatives from various Cherokee County and city agencies, the Atlanta Regional Commission, GDOT, GRTA, and planners from surrounding areas. The TAC meets as needed and has reviewed the existing conditions report and continues to discuss the needs and goals of the transportation system in the county.
The findings of the existing conditions report in Cherokee County were released in November 2014. Related to population, the study found that between 1980 and 2010, Cherokee County grew by 315% compared to a 129% growth in the Atlanta region, which consists of 20 counties. Additionally, the reports expect a 93% percent growth in population in Cherokee from 2010-2040 compared to 57% regionally. It is predicted that Cherokee will also have a job growth rate that is 145% greater than the regional average through 2040. The report studied employment and commuting trends and found that currently 79% of the population of Cherokee County that is employed commutes to work outside the county. The existing conditions study also identified and analyzed freight facilities, and high crash intersections and road segments. Essentially the report suggests that Cherokee will continue its transformation from a rural to a more urban community which suggests the county needs to continue to develop and coordinate with other counties to improve the transportation system.
Following the inventory of existing conditions, the plan introduced a number of objectives and goals. By engaging the public the project is conducting a needs assessment. These goals include:
- Ensuring public safety and security
- Increasing accessibility and connectivity
- Improving mobility and efficiency
- Supporting multiple modes of transportation
- Enhance the environment and quality of life
- Preserving existing facilities
- Engaging in effective public involvement
The project also identified three types of solutions to the transportation system which include capacity improvements, operational improvements, and intersection improvements.
Moving forward, the committees will be meeting to develop and prioritize projects for the transportation system in Cherokee County. A public meeting in late June 2015 will be held to present the transportation recommendations. Afterwards, a final documentation with the transportation recommendations will be drafted to be presented to the Cherokee Board of Commissioners by the end of summer 2015. With the help of the public, the CTP update will reflect transportation needs and help to promote future growth in the county. The Council looks forward to continuing to serve as a member of the TAC as Cherokee County moves forward with the update.