Advisory task force remains a good idea

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2005

Suffolk City Council last week heard an update on progress toward the city's take over of maintenance on all roads in the great 430.

We're glad to see state and local officials pledging to work closely to see to it the transition is as smooth as possible. And while most of it has been behind the scenes, there is a lot taking place.

Director of Public Works Eric Nielsen, charged with overseeing the issue on the city' side, said that over the summer, teams of city and Virginia Department of Transportation employees finalized an equipment list, facility needs and locations, job descriptions and a timeline for hiring some employees.

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They have also set goals and timeframes for other issues that need to be address before the takeover: putting out bids for equipment purchases, obtaining facilities, obtaining bids for outsources services and developing plans and policies.

Nielsen is deserving of praise for the work he's done on the project.

With everything going so well on the technical end of the transition, it's important the city not let things lapse on the political and public relations end. We refer to specifically to the agreement to appoint a citizen advisory task force to see to it that road maintenance monies are distributed fairly throughout the city.

Appointment of the task force was a condition of Milteer's critical support of the takeover and it wasn't a bad idea.

Whether rightly or wrongly, over the past 30 years many of this city's more than 75,000 residents who live outside of the downtown area have come to be suspicious of their local government and are of the opinion that the road takeover will simply be a bonanza for downtown thoroughfares while their roadways will remain little changed.

Our city's leaders promised that wouldn't be the case. Getting the citizen advisory council up and running ASAP will show they were serious about it.