When the Guilford County Board of Commissioners was handing out $104 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to local towns, cities, non-profits, water projects and you name its, one thing that failed to get noticed is that the county also set aside $1 million from that pot of money to help fund a new initiative of its own in 2023 – a Guilford County Transportation Task Force.
The Task Force will exam – and attempt to address – transportation challenges in the county faced by workers and other commuters, especially those who are financially challenged and therefore who, for instance, don’t own a car or don’t have the option of hailing an Uber on their iPhone.
The Task Force is largely the brainchild of District 5 Commissioner Carly Cooke. The committee is still in the formulative process but once January 2023 rolls around Cooke and her task force will be bolting out of the gate.
At a Board of Commissioners meeting just before Christmas, Cooke spoke briefly on the progress of the initiative.
“Last week we did have a meeting for the Transportation Task Force,” she said, adding that Guilford County Manager Mike Halford, Department of Social Services Director Sharon Barlow, Clerk to the Board Robin Keller and other county officials were on the committee .
“We plan to meet in the middle of January and to invite representatives of Greensboro and High Point,” she said, adding that any commissioners interested in participating should let her know.
Since the Task Force hasn’t held its first meeting yet, and since there’s been very little public discussion on the matter, a lot of questions remain as to exactly what issues the Task Force will attempt to tackle. However, there is some official language regarding the establishment and intent of the body.
The description accompanying the $1 million allocation of ARP funds states that the funding is to “convene and support a new interagency task force to identify transportation challenges and enact initiatives to support transportation improvements for Guilford County’s growing workforce and underserved communities.”
For years, Guilford County, along with the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) and city-run transportation agencies, have attempted to address transportation problems in the county.
Years ago, Guilford County had a separate Transportation Department, however that department – which was handed around to various department directors for years – was eventually subsumed by the Guilford County Department of Social Services, now a division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services.