Construction of a multigrade interchange for the Oconee Connector and SR 316 intersection is the most pressing road project in the county, the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning decided last night.
The Commitee rated the widening of Daniells Bridge Road and the construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10 near the bottom of its priority list of 18 road projects in the county.
Improvements to Simonton Bridge Road and the bridge for that road across the Middle Oconee River were of high priority to the Committee, following the multigrade intersection of the Oconee Connector and SR 316 in importance.
After making its rankings, the Committee voted to send a report of its work to the Board of Commissioners to make sure the Board learned of the Committee's priorities.
The Board of Commissioners, over the objection of Chairman Melvin Davis, voted last week not to sign project framework agreements with the Georgia Department of Transportation that would have resulted in the county moving forward with the two Daniells Bridge Road projects.
Although the BOC had asked the citizen advisory committee to evaluate road priorities in the county as the BOC considered the project framework agreements with the state, the Commissioners went forward with the vote at the urging of Chairman Davis.
Davis argued that the Land Use and Transportation Planning Committee already had offered its advice when it voted last fall to recommend that the county sign the two project framework agreements for the Daniells Bridge Road projects plus a third for the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road.
The Land Use Committee made no effort to reconcile its vote last night with the vote in November.
The Land Use Committee used an unusual procedure last night to rank the 18 projects on its list.
Each of the 10 Committee members present, excepting Chair Abe Abouhamdan, was given 18 votes, all of which could be allocated to a single project. Committee member Stuart Cofer was absent.
Each vote was represented by a large paper clip, which the Committee members, one by one, placed in 18 plastic cups labeled for each of the road projects under review.
Although the Committee last month voted to eliminate the Daniells Bridge Road widening from the list of projects under review, it was listed on the project sheet last night and rated along with the 17 other projects under review.
The Oconee Connector intersection with SR 316 received 37 votes, followed by 28 votes for the reconstruction of the bridge over the Middle Oconee that connects Simonton Bridge Road in Oconee County with Whitehall Road in Clarke County.
The widening of Simonton Bridge Road itself received the next highest count, with 19 votes.
The widening of U.S. 441 and Bishop bypass received 14 votes, followed by the widening of Hog Mountain Road from Mars Hill Road to U.S. 441 (12 votes).
The Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover got only five votes, and the Daniells Bridge Road widening got only three votes. Abouhamdan (standing) counts the votes in the video below, while county Strategic and Long Range Planner Wayne Provost (to the right of Abouhamdan) records the counts.
The Jimmy Daniell Road widening received 10 votes. The Board of Commissioners approved a project framework agreement for that project in November.