The Oconee County Board of Commissioners tonight got a primer on the operation of the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS), the regional transportation planning body of which the county has been a member since 1980.
Next they heard from the county director of strategic and long range planning, who moved project by project through the county’s listings in the MACORTS planning documents.
The proposed widening of Daniells Bridge Road and the proposed construction of an extension of that road that would fly over SR Loop 10 to connect with the stub of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot figured prominently in both presentations.
At the end of the hour-and-25-minute-long meeting, however, the Board seemed no closer to reaching a decision on what to do with the two projects than it was at the beginning of the month, when it heard from citizens and spent more than two hours with the issue before postponing a decision until April.
Brad Griffin, director of the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, and Sherry McDuffie, transportation planner at Athens-Clarke County, explained the procedures MACORTS uses in listing transportation projects and then moving them through the system for implementation.
Griffin is chair of the MACORTS Technical Coordinating Committee, and Duffie is MACORTS coordinator.
They explained to the Board that the Technical Coordinating Committee is the advisory body to the MACORTS Policy Committee.
The Policy Committee, on which BOC Chairman Melvin Davis serves along with Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson and Anthony Dove, chair of the Madison County Board of Commissioners, makes recommendation to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Provost On Development
Wayne Provost, Oconee County’s long-range planner, once again argued that the two Daniells Bridge Road projects were designed to relieve traffic, not to promote development.
Emil Beshara, who as public works director actually is the person in charge of roads in the county, was quoted in the Feb. 12 edition of The Oconee Enterprise saying just the opposite.
Beshara was present at the meeting tonight, but he was not asked to come to the table and speak.
Provost admitted that the county had only limited data on the traffic in the area and how it might be affected by construction of the Daniells Bridge Road projects.
Need A Study
Late in the meeting, Chairman Davis asked if the commissioners wanted to undertake a study of just that issue, focusing particularly on congestion at the intersection of the Oconee Connector and Epps Bridge Parkway.
The question did not produce a response, as the video below shows.
Shortly after he posed that question, Davis brought the discussion of county road projects to a close.
Davis said the Board would have to make a decision at its April 7 meeting on what to do with the project framework agreements the state has sent to the county, asking the county to commit to a timetable and rough funding formula for the two Daniells Bridge Road projects.
"Based on what we have done with the last three special meetings," Davis said, "right now, in my mind, I don’t see a need” for the meeting the Board had scheduled for Thursday.
The Board accepted that suggestion and canceled the meeting.
Video Of Session
The commissioners were seated around a table for the meeting in the Grand Jury Room of the Courthouse. The three presenters had their backs to the small audience of seven citizens who were in attendance.
I shot the video below from the angle that best showed the response of the five commissioners to the presenters. The county did not video record the meeting.
The faces of the presenters usually were not visible to the camera.