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Public hearing on transit center likely for February

ALBANY -- City officials say that concerns over a proposed transit center project scheduled for a downtown location will be heard during a public hearing in February.

The public hearing is a requirement of an environmental assessment that must be undertaken before construction can begin on the site, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.

The city had already completed an environmental assessment that had been approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation before a complaint lodged by Albany property owner John Sherman and Dr. Charles Gillespie created rumblings in the Federal Transit Authority.

Questions were raised during the last assessment that went unaddressed during the environmental review process, Smith said.

Under state DOT guidance and leadership, the city is conducting the hearing to rectify those issues.

"GDOT is providing guidance and leadership in carrying out a new environmental review that will rectify problems and answer any questions from the previous assessment," Smith said.

The multimodal transit center is slated for construction in what is

presently a parking lot off Washington Street. Phase 1, a new bus terminal, is set to be built using stimulus dollars.

Smith said Phase 2, a rail component that was added onto the city's original multimodal plan by GDOT in the initial environmental assessment, will likely not be funded because of the delay caused by the rehashing of the environmental assessment.

Sherman owns property near where the planned transit terminal would be built and is arguing that it would cause him financial hardships in using those buildings since the entrances are largely to the rear of the building and would likely be impacted by construction in the area.