Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Georgia Department Of Transportation Releases Maps Of U.S. 441 Widening In Oconee County

Show Bishop Roundabouts

The Georgia Department of Transportation today (Tuesday) released electronic versions of the five maps it unveiled March 28 at a meeting of the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee on the widening of U.S. 441 from Watkinsville to the Apalachee River.

Included were maps showing two alternate designs for the roadway through Bishop as well as three maps of the sections of roadway through Oconee County

At that meeting on March 28, GDOT officials said they were no longer considering a bypass of Bishop and presented the five maps to the Citizen Advisory Committee members as well as to a handful of other citizens present.

The state officials said that the only copies of the maps available were those shown at the meeting and that they were not able to release the copies to the public.

Release Of Maps

GDOT released the maps in response to an open records request filed by Michael Prochaska, editor of The Oconee Enterprise.

Roundabouts On Either Side Of Bishop (Click To Enlarge)

Prochaska told me yesterday that he had received the files from GDOT but was having difficulty downloading them. He asked if I would be willing to help.

I agreed, saying I, too, had asked for copies of the maps. I had not filed an open records request because I was told the maps were not with GDOT but in the possession of its consultant.

After I talked to Prochaska, I sent a message to Bruce Anderson, GDOT project manager, asking him to send me the files as well, since I had asked for them at the March 28 meeting.

I told Prochaska I would share with him anything I was able to acquire.

Kerrie Boyette, from GDOT consultant KCI, who had presented the maps at the meeting on March 28, sent Anderson instructions on how to download the very large files. Anderson forwarded those instructions to me.

Prochaska told me this afternoon that he also had been able to download the files.

Bishop Map Details

One of the files showing the roadway through Bishop includes roundabouts at Astondale Road and SR 186/High Shoals Road. A clip from that file is above.

I have put the complete file on box.net, and it can be downloaded HERE. All of these files are very large, so downloading takes patience.

A second file shows what GDOT is calling Florida-T designs at the Astondale Road intersection with U.S. 441 and at the SR 186/High Shoals Road intersection with U.S. 441.

That file can be downloaded HERE.

Maps Of Complete Route

GDOT released sheet 1 of the route, from the Apalachee River to Heritage Park, south of Farmington.

That map can be downloaded HERE.

Sheet 2 of the route is from Heritage Park to just south of Bishop.

That map is available HERE.

Sheet 3 is from Bishop to Watkinsville.

That map is HERE.

On all three maps, the purple route is for the railroad right of way.

I had made a video recording of all of these maps at the March 28 meeting.

March 28 Meeting

At the meeting on March 28, Bishop Mayor Johnny Pritchett voiced strong opposition to the decision not to bypass Bishop.

Except in Bishop, the highway would be four lanes wide. In Bishop, it would be three lanes wide.

For the whole route, the new road would follow the existing right of way.

To slow traffic moving through Bishop, consultants to GDOT are proposing the roundabouts, but the Florida-T was presented as an alternate.

The plans also include a pedestrian crossing in Bishop with a traffic light that is push-button activated.

The plans call for streetscaping in Bishop to make the roadway pedestrian friendly, for landscaping and for pedestrian lighting.


Xardox said...

Does anyone really think this is anything but a Done Deal?

Anonymous said...

Assuming there is no 'perfect' solution, the 3-lane round-a-bout is as close as we'll get IMHO.

No disruption of our beautiful rapidly-disappearing NorGA countryside / agriculture; minimal disruption to Bishop; definitely most cost-effective for us GA taxpayers, quickest build.

BTW, tho somewhat unfamiliar to many, round-a-bouts are safest fastest way to route traffic, of this there is no dispute. Plenty of easily accessible resources to verify this. Trucks will slow down and will not have enough roadway before Astondale round-a-bout to speed up again. And, finally, it's NOT about the speed through town, as there is very little speeding thanks to the traffic, it's about the flow. This plan will IMPROVE and manage the flow quite adequately.

We are fortunate things are moving in this direction. GDOT is to be commended.

Anonymous said...

To anom 10:03 AM. If this is such a good thing why did they put a bypass around Watkinsville? All it is guaranteed to do is increase the # of vehicles thru downtown Bishop slow or not.

Zippity said...

There is no perfect solution to this problem except somehow having fewer vehicles on roadways, which seems unlikely for now. Although I understand the difficulty for Bishop, saving the farms in the area is more important to me. I wish they had chosen the alternate bypass proposed by Positively Oconee, but glad they decided not to take the long way through the farmland

Anonymous said...

Everyone keep referencing all these farms, how many are true active farm operations or are they hobby farms like Hedgerow Farms or that was the impression I got from the article in the Oconee magazine. To me it seems unfair to punish the many for a few to get their way. The many include all the people who must travel US441 to make a living.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, to talk about "punishment" as taking a few minutes more to pass through is really of no consequence whatsoever. We all need to slow down, you'll live much longer, happier, healthier. And, at the end of a long day, you'll never notice (or remember).

And what a pleasant drive though 'downtown' it will be, with the planned beautification. What's more, think of all the tax dollars saved!! Oh my goodness, millions probably. All true conservatives must absolutely champion this decision.

Furthermore, we'd have to compute the distance around to really determine whether it would be 'faster'. In fact, good chance the extra distance ADDS time. So, the 3-laner SAVES time & money. The best possible outcome for sure!

Johnny Pritchett said...

For anyone interested in knowing zoom in on the 3 lanes through Bishop as I have and you will see that 7 of our buildings in Bishop including the Old Historic Jail are in Jeporady of being demolished. With one 14ft center lane in the middle and 2 12 ft lanes and 2 5ft. sidewalks. If the plans are followed almost all of our shops and stores will be destroyed. Bishop is on the National Register of Historic Places and this plan will destroy our town.
I think Bishop is worth more than a little farmland don't you. If you don't believe me check for yourself zoom in. Also you have seen the traffic nightmare with Mars hILL rd. construction. Think what it will be like with this project where will DOT reroute the traffic and how will that effect you.

Anonymous said...

You can zoom in all you want Johnny but it's an overlay map. They aren't produced to show final results but to give an idea. Stop with the scare tactics until GDOT releases more information.

Johnny Pritchett said...

1 14ft. Center lane two 12 foot Lanes and to 5 foot side walls equals 48 feet. You tell me how you get 48 feet in a 32-foot roadbed it won't fit. If you got an answer anonymous I'm welcome to hear it.

Anonymous said...

"The trucks are noisy when they brake as they come through town.
The proposed three lane concept will not solve these problems. This will make it
impossible to sell property." Who at the meeting said this? Was this Johnny Pritchett? The person who is concerned about Bishop being "worth more than a little farmland?"

It amazes me how the people of this town wish for the Government to seize land, take property AND income from farms and label it "hobby farming" in favor of a bunch of antique/collectible...and, I'm going to say it..."JUNK STORES." There! I said it! If ever there was a hobby business it's those (with the exception of the nicer one next to the Post Office.) I've never seen so many self-serving people in my life. So much for small town living.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:01,
A quick look at the tax map along the proposed bypass routes in and around Farmington is very revealing. Johnny Pritchett owns property near there and stands to get some taxpayer money from a bypass.
This is the main reason Johnny has said from the beginning, "Bishop needs to be bypassed and I don't care where it goes".
Well... GDOT listened and look what happened when Johnny didn't care. He got roundabouts.
If Johnny would have joined with the farmers on a sensible route rather than just acting like he didn't care, he could have had his cake and eaten it too.

Lee Becker said...

Anon @ 12:01

I have checked the county tax records for all Pritchetts. None of the property is in the areas that might be part of a bypass of Bishop.

The property listed near Farmington will not be affected by any decision regarding the bypass.


Anonymous said...

I believe he owns a house right next to 441 in downtown Bishop, thus a possible reason why he wants a bypass and refuses to give the roundabouts a chance. And I believe he did comment about "selling property" in the meeting with DOT and the town being "worth more than a bit of farmland." He has stated he's only interested in what's good for the town and I'll take him at his word, but his comments do give me pause.

Anonymous said...

Parcel Number BI02 008

Lee Becker said...

Anonymous 10:22 a.m.
The property in downtown Bishop is where Pritchett lives. Yes, the property fronts on U.S. 441. He has been clear that the widened road would affect him and his neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Go check out the Bishop, Ga Facebook page where Carolyn Pritchett admitted they have additional family property along the proposed route. Like one post said... the Pritchett's get a little traffic out from in front of their house and some money in their pocket. Win/win.

Anonymous said...

I think what may really be going on here is this, and I don't necessarily think this applies to all who are in favor of a bypass, but certainly some and probably several that live on 441. There is a house on the corner of Old Bishop road and 441 that was completely renovated last year, inside and out. It's a really cute farm house. They put it on the market and it didn't sell. Months went by, they kept dropping the price and it still didn't sell. I can only imagine is that it's because nobody wants to live next to a busy road. (they recently rezoned it and a real estate office is in there now). I think that certainly, the people who have houses on 441 there in Bishop had to notice this. How could they not? This is why someone at the DOT meeting said "nobody will ever be able to sell their property." While I sympathize with their situation...what they ultimately want is for the road to go right next to other people's houses or through land being used for farming, making this somebody else's problem. Does the state really need to spend millions on a road so that a small number of people who bought right next to the hwy can get a return on their property sale? I say we give the roundabouts a chance to slow things down, and honestly, the future growth of residential dwellings in Bishop probably won't be right next to 441.