Category Archives: Canopy Road

VDT: Quarterman Road project completed

The Valdosta Daily Times caught me working on being tactful.

Matt Flumerfelt’s writeup actually conflates two different county commission meetings, but gets the gist right:

The fate of the tree canopies lining the rural road were thought to hang in the balance. Several residents spoke in favor of the paving, citing dangerous conditions along the road during periods of stormy weather.

John and Gretchen Quarterman, whose ancestors lent their name to the country lane, led the fight to preserve the road in its original pristine dirt-road condition.

A longleaf pine on Quarterman Road. The forest along Quarterman Road is “a scrap of the longleaf fire forest that used to grow from southern Virginia to eastern Texas,” said John Quarterman following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This forest has been here since the last ice age.”

Quarterman Road, pre-paving, was the kind of dirt road down which Huckleberry Finn might be envisioned skipping barefoot with a fishing rod projecting over one shoulder.

It was the kind of road near which Thoreau might have planted a cabin.

“Many people don’t know that a longleaf pine forest has more species diversity than anything outside a tropical rain forest,” Quarterman said. “In our woods, we have five species of blueberries, …

Oh, the beaver will be mad. I forgot to mention the beaver.

The rest of the story is on the VDT web pages. More pictures of the event in the previous blog entry.

For pictures of what lives in the forest, see longleaf burning gopher tortoises, snakes, frogs, bees and butterflies, spiders and scorpion, and raccoon, and beautyberry, pokeberry, passion flower, pond lily, ginger lily, Treat’s rain lily (native only to south Georgia, north Florida, and a bit of Alabama), thistle, sycamore, palmetto, mushrooms, lantana, magnolia, grapes, yellow jessamine, dogwood, and native wild azaleas.

The VDT has a good picture of Gretchen cutting the ribbon.

But it’s not over just because one road project is completed:

“More people around the county seem to be paying attention these days. Commissioners tell us that already another road in the county has had its canopy saved during paving, and the commission has promised residents of Coppage Road that if their road is paved, their canopy will be saved. Commissioners even seem to like the idea of recognizing canopy roads as a feature of quality of life for residents of the county and for visitors.”

We have a forest. The county just has roads.

Now let’s go see what they’re doing to the rest of our roads. And schools, and waste management, and biofuels, and industry…. If you’d like to help, please contact the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

With the Lines: Quarterman Road Canopy Drivethroughs

The county has put down the lines on the road, so maybe they’re finished with the paving project. Here are drivethroughs with the lines.

The ribbon cutting is 10AM tomorrow, Thursday, 10 September 2009, at the north end of the north canopy. If you like trees, come see the ones we’ve got left.


From Valdosta go north on Bemiss Road, left on Cat Creek Road, left on Hambrick Road, left on Quarterman Road, and continue all the way around through the canopies until you see people.

From Hahira go east on 122, right on Hambrick Road, right on Quarterman Road, pass the subdivision and the fields, and you’ll see people.

North Canopy, southbound

Continue reading

Paving the Canopies of Quarterman Road

Here’s what the British call a drive-through of the north canopy just after the asphalt went down:

More pictures on flickr.

Many of you helped Save Our Canopy Road. Well, we weren’t entirely successful, as you can see. Many of the trees in the canopies are gone, and all the trees on the right of way elsewhere on the road are gone. But we did at least save some of the canopy trees. Continue reading

Start of Asphalt on Quarterman Road

In November 2008, the Lowndes County Commission voted to pave Quarterman Road. Grubbing and clearing happened in December. Paving bids were accepted and decided in March 2009.

Putting down the asphalt started 20 August 2009:

Three vehicles

The county is holding a ribbon cutting at 10 AM this Thursday, 10 September 2009, at the north end of the north canopy. It’s a public event. Y’all come. Don’t be late; the chairman starts things on the dot.

“Your streets are designed to kill people.”

Vision Zero Roads that are designed to kill, By Mark Rosenberg, August 18, 2009:
They said the speed limit should be 30 kilometers per hour (about 18.6 miles per hour) or less if we wanted pedestrians to have much of a chance of surviving.
That’s what people in Sweden say. In their country, roads are actually designed to be safe. Unlike ours:
“This is where you live? This is your neighborhood? Your streets are designed to kill people.’’
It’s not hard to find descriptions of Sweden’s Vision Zero for no road deaths:
Vehicle speed is the most important regulating factor for safe road traffic.
Hm, so slower is safer.

Quarterman Road (like many other rural roads in Lowndes County) is a local neighborhood road, with tractors, bicycles, dogs, deer, and mothers rolling babies in strollers. According to Claes Tingvall, Director of Traffic Safety, Swedish Road Administration:

The idea of ”shared space” between pedestrians and vehicles has been trialed successfully in Gothenburg and other cities, as long as the environment has been redesigned for slow traffic.
And a budget-conscious county may be interested that he also says this:
The new safety principle, to control kinetic energy, is by itself cheaper than accident prevention. And once that investment is made it produces benefits every year.
Not to mention the benefit of fewer traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Paving Quarterman Road

Quarterman Road, 9 March 2009Several months ago a contract for grubbing and clearing Quarterman Road was let. I posted about some of the results of that.

Yesterday, 10AM, March 12 11, 2009, was the bid selection meeting for the contract for paving Quarterman Road. It was a public meeting. Carolyn Selby reports the following bids were read:

The low bid was selected, so Scruggs will be paving Quarterman Road.

The county engineer had estimated $1,336,000.00 for the project.

The county commission will vote on March 24, 2009 at the regular meeting.

What Happened to the Canopies

A while back I posted about Partial Win: Canopies May be Saved. Here’s what happened.

entrance before 2007:09:14 11:29:46
entrance after 2008:11:29 12:56:02
Oaks and fence missing at NW canopy
You may recognize that first picture from the Nov 6th post in this blog, Save Our Canopy Road. A copy of that blog post along with a neighorhood meeting notice with the same picture was in the materials staff gave to the Commission, so both staff and Commissioners should have been aware that that entrance was the symbol of the canopy. Despite a Commissioner telling us that the county would start with some noncontentious part of the clearing, the very first thing the county did was to tear all the limbs off those signature oaks at the entrance to the north canopy, and then tear them completely down and grub up the ground like a plowed field. That and tear down the neighboring fence. Here’s another view:


What looks like a plowed field is where those oaks used to be.

Now don’t get me wrong. The entire canopy is on the right of way the county owns, and, as I’ve said numerous times in public County Commission meetings, I do appreciate the county saving at least some part of the canopy, and I especially appreciate the Commissioners literally going out of their way on Nov 9th by piling into a van and driving out there to look at the situation, and then, as Chairman Casey said in the public meeting on Nov 10th, putting his thumb in the chest of the county engineer and telling him to find a way to save the canopies. And indeed, a significant part of the canopy is saved:


County staff showed pictures like that one at the Dec 9th Commission meeting, saying the canopy was saved. Indeed, part of it was saved. But the children crying in the house nearby don’t agree that “the canopy was saved,” nor do the adjoining landowners. Why should county staff, who never paid attention to the canopy until recent months except as an impediment to their highway plan, and who wanted to tear it all down, be the judge of what saving the canopy means?

Suppose the Commissioners had told staff to save your house and they tore down your front porch and flattened your carport and then showed pictures of your house to the Commission saying “we saved the house!” Would you be satisfied?

Speaking of the carport, here’s what the south end of the north canopy now looks like:

Too much grubbing

The pile of trees on the far side used to be canopy, and the bare dirt on the near side used to be canopy.

Why did they tear down the ends of the canopy? For curves. Designed for 45 MPH. After county staff had told me they were probably going to set the speed limit at the canopies lower than that. After the owner of both sides of the road immediately north of this canopy offered them the ability to move the road over enough not to need to tear down the trees or his fence. Instead of getting back to him on that, they just went ahead and tore down the trees the same day. As that landowner, Shawn Vandemark, said:

“We were told one thing and another happened.”

What we have here is a communication problem between the county government and its citizens. It’s not as if concerns about the canopy weren’t known to the county well beforehand. Back in June county government people attended a neighborhood meeting where those concerns were expressed, and options between paving like a highway or leaving it dirt were requested. Hearing no response, I sent a letter to the county on Aug 7th detailing those and other concerns. Still no response. The first notification anyone living on the road got (as far as I know) was when I noticed a truck driving slow around the road and asked them what they were doing. “Looking to see what it will take to tear down all the trees on the right of way!” When I pointed out that we were told back in June that we would be notified 6 to 9 months before anything was done, the two guys in the truck said, laughing:

“That’s the county way!”

The county did also leave a significant part of the south canopy, and we do appreciate the Commissioners making that happen:

A few marked trees

Although once again the county tore down the south end (not shown). Why? For a wide curve. That one I doubt is even for 45 MPH, given that it doesn’t look like they managed to acquire that much land back in the early 1990s. However, why did it even have to be 35MPH? This local rural neighborhood road doesn’t go anywhere!

The point here is that county staff did not do what the county Commission told them to do. The Commissioners left the fox in charge of the hen house, and quite a few chickens got eaten.

This has all been said directly to the county Commissioners and staff in their public meeting of Dec 9th. Some of the Commissioners had some difficulty understanding what we were complaining about. I’m spelling out this part of it here so as to make it more plain. Yes, the commissioners did go out of their way to save the canopies, and we do appreciate that. But what they said to do is not what happened. And it’s not the first time. If county staff had been taking care of business since June by communicating with residents of the road about the canopies, Commissioners wouldn’t have had any need to scurry around at the last minute. And if staff had done what the Commission told them to on Nov 10th, Commissioners wouldn’t have been listening to complaints about the canopy on Dec 9th.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. A small amount of dialog could have prevented this situation. Dialog between June and November. Dialog between county staff and the local landowner after Dec 10th. Staff could have said to him: “here’s what I understand your concerns to be and here’s what we’re going to do; how does that sound?” A few iterations like that between the county and him and other concerned parties and a result could have been arrived at that, while it may not have pleased everybody, wouldn’t have been nearly as much of a problem.

Here’s the newspaper version of that Dec 10th meeting. More on other topics from that meeting in another post.

If saying one thing and doing another is “the county way”, does that seem right to you?

How do we institute effective dialog between the county government and its citizens?

A Local Rural Road is Not a Collector

Quarterman Road is a local rural road through a rural neighborhood. Reclassifying it as collector and raising the speed limit would create a safety hazard.

The first map below is from the Lowndes County Thoroughfare Plan dated January 28, 2003; this is the version currently on the county’s public web pages. It plainly shows Quarterman Road (near the top center) as a local road.

Thoroughfare Map, Lowndes County, Georgia

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) told me that it is possible to classify parts of a road differently, especially when the major source of traffic is (in GDOT’s example) a subdivision that is located closer to one end. This is confirmed by the second map, from the South Georgia Regional Development Center (SGRDC), Continue reading