The Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to go forward with widening of Jimmy Daniell Road Tuesday night but postponed action on two projects on Daniells Bridge Road.
The Board made no actual decision on what it will do to Jimmy Daniell Road, with construction of center turn and deceleration lanes one possibility and construction of four lanes, a new bridge over McNutt Creek and reconfiguration to meet with the roadway in Athens-Clarke County another.
BOC Chairman Melvin Davis told the commissioners at the beginning of the discussion that he “had some conversations yesterday and today with GDOT officials” and recommended that they take no action on the two Daniells Bridge Road projects.
The widening of Daniells Bridge Road from Chestnut Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road and construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road to fly over SR Loop 10 to meet up with the stub of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot likely will be on the agenda early next year.
Request for Action
The county had received project framework agreements from the Georgia Department of Transportation for all three projects in early July, but the four voting commissioners had postponed action on the agreements pending a review of county transportation needs.
Davis short-circuited that review by the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning after the county received a letter dated Oct. 28 from GDOT asking for county action by Dec. 1 on a project framework agreement for the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road.
While Davis had put all three project framework agreements on the agenda for action on Tuesday night, he acknowledged Tuesday that the county only had received a request to act on the Jimmy Daniell Road project framework agreement.
He said he was recommending that the county “hold the other projects for discussion at a later date.”
Public Works Director
Davis asked county Public Works Director Emil Beshara to review the details of the Jimmy Daniell Road widening, but Beshara said little actually is known at this point.
“The scope is not defined,” Beshara told the commissioners. “It could be as large and complex or as streamlined and straightforward as you desire.”
Beshara said the widening is a “sister project” to work on the roadway in Clarke County and he recommended that the two counties enter into an intergovernmental agreement on the project.
The county could build the center turn lanes, acceleration and deceleration lanes, and widen the road to 12-foot lanes without purchasing additional right of way, Beshara said.
If the county decides to widen the roadway to four lanes, it will need additional right of way, he said.
Davis and Beshara gave different versions of how the Jimmy Daniell road work would be financed.
Beshara said the project framework agreement states that “the county is willing to work with DOT to further this project in accordance with the allocations and responsibility set forth” in the agreement.
The project framework agreement before the county stated that preliminary engineering would be paid for by federal and state funds, right of way would be paid for by Oconee County, and construction would be paid for by the federal government and the state.
The total cost would be $21.7 million, with the county paying 5 percent, or $1.1 million.
Davis said the county could negotiate with the state on these matters.
“We know we have different contracts that have come back,” he said. The state might be willing to reimburse the county for right of way, he said.
Davis’ explanation of the purpose of the project framework agreement is in the short clip below.
Beshara suggested the county might want to do the widening project on a limited scale and pay all of the expenses, since state regulations can run up the costs.
Following the discussion, and without any resolution on these issues, Commissioner Mark Saxon moved for approval of the project framework agreement. Commissioner Jim Luke seconded.
The Commission passed the resolution unanimously.
I was not able to attend the meeting, but Russ Page did attend and made a full video recording.
The section dealing with the project framework agreements follows.
"BOC Chairman Melvin Davis told the commissioners at the beginning of the discussion that he “had some conversations yesterday and today with GDOT officials” and recommended that they take no action on the two Daniells Bridge Road projects."
Who were the GDOT Officials Melvin met with? Was Jamie Boswell one of them? Why weren't the other commissioners invited? Was isn't Emil or Benko representing the county in these conversations? Who made Melvin the King of Oconee?
More behind closed door nonsense, and the other commissioners just follow Melvin blindly, no discussion, no checks & balances?
No one doubts that all of the mentioned projects will be built. Clear, open, honest discussion would be the only new wrinkle in the "Have money, Build Roads in Election Years" mantra of all local leaderships.
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