The Georgia Department of Transportation is holding its first meeting with the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee for the U.S. 441 Improvements in Oconee and Morgan counties from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Community Center at Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.
Bruce Anderson, GDOT project manager, sent the invitation to 10 members of the Citizens Advisory Committee via an email on March 3 and attached a formal invitation from Albert V. Shelby III, program delivery administrator in the GDOT Office of Program Delivery.
It is doubtful under the state open meetings law that the public can be excluded from the meeting, but the County does not have the meeting on its web calendar, and relatively few people will know of it.
Purpose Of Meeting
According to the invitation letter from Shelby, the “US 441 Improvements project in Oconee County has entered into the conceptual roadway design phase.”
|Chris Greer Drone Photo Of Farmland East Of Bishop (2/18/2017).|
The Old Farmington Road Bridge Over Greenbriar Creek Is Center, Left.
Click To Enlarge
As a result, according to the letter, “GDOT is seeking input from the CAC into its decision-making process as it considers the potential impacts to property and resources that may result from this project.”
The letter states that “GDOT and consultant personnel will be in attendance to participate in the CAC discussion and answer questions about the next steps in the roadway project design process.”
The improvements to U.S. 441 under consideration including widening of the roadway from the southern end of the Watkinsville bypass to the bypass of Madison.
The roadway almost certainly also will include a bypass of Bishop.
Alignment alternatives for the roadway will made public later this year, according to a newsletter that GDOT Project Manager Anderson sent out on Thursday to those who attended a meeting held in the county on Oct. 25.
GDOT is in the process of developing those alternate alignments at present, according to the newsletter.
In preparing roadway design concepts, according to the newsletter, “the design teams consider public input, GDOT design guidelines, the roadway context and setting, costs, and environmental survey results regarding features such as historic properties, cemeteries, water resources, protected species, and community resources.
“The teams also consider traffic volumes and crash data to determine areas along the corridor where safety improvements may be necessary,” according to the newsletter.
The newsletter states that GDOT “understands that local residents value the rural feel of the corridor. While our goal is to provide a transportation facility that meets the needs of the traveling public, we also value how this facility fits into the local community context.”
Invited To Meeting
GDOT sent the invitation letter for Tuesday’s meeting to the eight persons the Oconee County Board of Commissioners had appointed to a Sounding Board and to two additional CAC members.
Those two added members are Del Finco, who owns farmland on the east side of Bishop, and Merry Howard, director of the Oconee County Senior Center.
The original eight Sounding Board members are: Abe Abouhamdan, Bill Douglas, Tammy Gilland, Bobby Griggs, Walter Lee, Buddy Murrow, Johnny Pritchett, and Jerry Thomas.
At a June 14 meeting of GDOT and its consultants, Claudia Bilotto from GDOT contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff discussed adding additional members to the Sounding Board to form the Citizen Advisory Committee that is normally assembled by GDOT as part of roadway projects.
At that meeting, representatives of the citizen group Positively Oconee requested that Penny Mills be added to the CAC. Mills is former executive dean of the Oconee County campus of Gainesville State College, now the University of North Georgia.
GDOT representatives seemed to accept the suggestion, but Mills was not on the invitation list used by Anderson in his March 3 emailing.
Mills has told me she has been informed of the meeting and plans to attend.