Transportation Issues Important to DETCOG

Transportation is no problem for anyone in attendance for this afternoon's Deep East Texas Council of Governments meeting in San Augustine. But it is for the hundreds of East Texans they represent.    In some parts of the region just getting back and forth to work is difficult because there's no public transportation.

Center Mayor John Windham serves on DETCOG's transportation committee. He said,  " We have come to the realization that six out of 12 counties have no public transportation at all. " So for the last six months a consulting firm has been listening to the problems that come with a lack of transportation. Now a regional coordination plan is ready for presentation and funding.

DETCOG Director Walter Diggles explained, " The transportation plan is basically going to be seeking funding to enhance the social service transportation in East Texas and we're very, very pleased with the study and looking forward to presenting it to both Austin and Washington."

The plan calls for transportation access for employees of major employers of Center, many who can't afford even car pooling costs. As many as 500 of Tyson Food employees commute from Mansfield and Logansport.   Windham said,  " They are reaching the point to where they're looking for other work because it's costing quite a bit to work in pool cars." Additional services would provide transportation to Veterans hospitals in Houston, as well as a transit system to help people get around their own home town. Windham said if funding becomes available they have a solution. " We'll try to work that out with about four to six busses with the public transit system in those six counties."

The study found a lack of state financial support for expanded services. So these leaders will spend the next five months preparing their argument for funding to the Texas Department of Transportation Commission.   DETCOG will be apply for funding through programs designed to increase access to social services for low income, elderly and handicapped individuals. It also targets workers who otherwise might go unemployed without transportation.