Rome has gotten a greenlight from the Federal Transit Administration to sell off the city’s fleet of buses previously used to transport students to the city schools.
While City Manager Sammy Rich called the news “a Christmas in May miracle,” there are strings attached. The city will have to create a restricted line item in the transit budget for the proceeds from the sale.
Finance Director Toni Rhinehart said the funds can only be used for capital improvements in the transit department, and any expenditure must be approved in advance by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
How the buses will be sold remains up in the air, Transit Director Kathy Shealy said. An option could be to find an auction firm that specializes in fleet sales rather than trying to sell each bus separately.
Rome was left holding the bag after a federal audit in 2019 determined the 35-year-old practice of transporting Rome City Schools students violates regulations.
The school system switched over to providing its own transportation this past year but Rome Transit was left with an excess of vehicles because the school system was required to purchase specialty buses.
The discussion came during the city’s Public Works Committee meeting Wednesday.
Broad Street traffic, Fifth Avenue bridge
The committee decided to buy a couple of rubberized speed tables to install in the 400 block of Broad Street crosswalks. The raised crosswalks will cost about $9,000 each and will be much easier to install than poured asphalt or concrete tables.
The rubberized traffic calming devices would serve as a relatively inexpensive proof of concept.
If the raised crosswalks do slow down traffic, then more permanent speed tables could be installed in the future.
The city put out speed monitoring devices on Broad Street this week to collect some hard data to compare with when the crosswalks are elevated 3 inches.
The committee also agreed to have a formal sit-down with Floyd County officials soon to decide on what, if any, changes should be made to the traffic flow across the Fifth Avenue Bridge.
City Engineer Aaron Carroll said he needs to put out a request for engineering proposals for streetscape improvements in the River District. As part of that, they need to define what kind of lane alignment will be on either side of the bridge.
County leaders have suggested that any construction on the bridge be delayed pending GDOT action related to the widening of Second Avenue and work on the Turner McCall Bridge over the Etowah River.
“There’s no way I’m waiting on the DOT for anything,” said City Commissioner Mark Cochran, who chairs the committee.
The committee also agreed to send GDOT a letter of support for the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of East 12th Street and East Second Avenue. Carroll said he is not aware of the timetable for that project.