Monday, October 03, 2011

Citizen Advisory Committee and Oconee County Public Works Director Come to Terms on Traffic Concerns

Revoted Priorities

Emil Beshara, Public Works director for Oconee County, started at the top of the list of road projects presented him by the Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning.

The Committee had spent two full meetings identifying and then ranking in terms of importance the 23 roadway projects in the county that, according to Committee Chairman Abe Abouhamdan, “could use some improvements.”

The Committee said improvements to the intersection of Union Church and Hog Mountain roads was its top priority.

Beshara said the county didn’t have money for left and right turn lanes at that intersection, and the state was not in favor of putting in a signal. The county does plan to do some paving of Union Church Road, he said.

Next in terms of priority on the Committee’s list was the intersection of Rocky Branch, Mars Hill and Virgil Langford roads.

Beshara said he had hoped this intersection would have been included on the proposed Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project list, but it didn’t make the cut.

“I simply cannot divert any funds that are currently being made available for resurfacing to other projects,” Beshara told the Committee at the Sept. 13 meeting. “And I don’t have enough in my general fund budget to take on a project like this.” He said it would cost about $650,000.

The Committee had ranked the intersection of Malcom Bridge and Hog Mountain roads as its third highest priority because, according to the Committee, “there have been several bad wrecks there.”

Beshara disagreed. “To my knowledge, there is not a high incidence of accidents at that location,” he said.

The fourth most pressing problem, according to the Committee, is the intersection in Butler’s Crossing.

Not to worry, Beshara said. This will be improved in the future with the widening of Mars Hill Road. It could be two years or more before that happens, he said.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to go out there right now and ask DOT to change it,” Beshara said. DOT is the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Committee said the fifth most pressing road project in the county is the entrance to Gainesville State College on Experiment Station Road.

“It is not a pressing problem,” Beshara told the Committee.

And so it went as Beshara went down the list.

The Committee said that the intersection of Union Church Road and New High Shoals Road needs an upgrade, with Chairman Abouhamdan advocating construction of a roundabout.

The intersection “is operating at a decent level of service now,” Beshara said.

Finally, at the 10th most pressing item, rated as of “medium” concern by the Committee, Beshara and the Committee found agreement, or nearly.

The Committee had said that the intersection of North Main Street and U.S. 441 needed a “keep moving” lane to cut down on accidents as motorists merge from the smaller street to the heavily traveled federal highway.

Beshara said this really is the intersection of Business U.S. 441 and U.S. 441 proper, but he agreed the intersection could use improvement.

“I agree, that is something that needs to be done,” he said. “It needs to be done fairly soon...To me, this is a higher priority.”

With that encouragement, James Morris made a motion, and Emily Givens seconded, that this project should have “high priority” status. The motion passed with all nine of the Committee’s 14 members present approving.

The Committee had said that the intersection of White Oak Drive and U.S. 441, near Loop 10, also could use an upgrade, but it was ranked as a low priority. In fact, it was ranked as 22 out of 23 projects.

Beshara liked this one, however, and the Committee made a motion to move it to the top of the list as well.

The motion passed unanimously.

“I appreciate all of you all’s work on this,” Beshara said after the motion passed. “This is good information. We always are interested in hearing you all’s concerns.”

At its next meeting, the Committee will turn to a new challenge.

Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Lang Planning for the county, has asked the group to come up with names for two roadways, one nearing completion and another still in the planning stage.

The nearly completed road will run from the new Oconee Connector to Jennings Mill Road near Zoom Bait, the fishing lure manufacturer.

The present name is Frontage Road, but Provost said in a memo he sent the Committee on Sept. 28 that “A more attractive name consistent with the commercial nature of the area seems appropriate.”

The roadway will serve as an entranceway to the proposed Epps Bridge Centre shopping complex.

Provost said the Committee also should consider “alternative names” for a road to run from Kohl’s to the Oconee Connector.

The present name is Parkway Boulevard.

The Committee is scheduled to take up this assignment at its scheduled Oct. 11 meeting, to be held at the Community Center at Oconee Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road. The Sept. 13 meeting was in the same venue.

The Oct. 11 meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Map of Roads Needing Names

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the Hog Mtn Road Intersection w/Union Church Rd. definitely needs an extended right turn lane (turning towards the Civic Center). If tht's not in the DOT's mindset, then a stoplight may help some. Although when the OCHS students leave it'd just be a even bigger traffic jam through it.