The Georgia Department of Transportation has developed an alternate plan for improvements to U.S. 441 that involves a close-in truck bypass on the east side of the City of Bishop.
Officials from GDOT presented the broad outlines of the plan to the City Council of Bishop on Monday night, where it got at least some support.
The officials said they would present the plan in fuller detail to its Citizen Advisory Committee in a meeting from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park.
The truck bypass would take some land from the University of Georgia Equestrian Complex and pass very close to two houses on Old Bishop Road, possibly necessitating the purchase of those two properties, the officials said.
The truck bypass–which could be one or two lanes wide in each direction–would connect to a four-laned U.S. 441 at Astondale Road and High Shoals Road with roundabouts.
Albert V. Shelby III, state program delivery engineer, who did much of the talking at the meeting on Monday, said the plan presented was a “conceptualization” and that much of the detail still needs to be worked out.
|Plan Shown On Video At Bishop Council Meeting 3/12/2018|
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Shelby said that the plans were offered in response to opposition by Bishop officials to routing all of the U.S. 441 traffic directly through the small city.
He said there are no plans being considered for any other bypass of Bishop.
The plan for a more eastern route has been rejected because of opposition from landowners and costs, Shelby said.
Reaction Of Council
“I like this a whole lot better than the first thing that I saw,” Bishop Mayor Johnny Pritchett said. He had been opposed strongly to allowing traffic flow through the city without any type of bypass for trucks.
“I’m willing to see how it works,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett said he remains skeptical about the use of roundabouts, saying that local people have no experience with them and that he doubts they can accommodate trucks.
Shelby assured those present that roundabouts do work, that they are effective in slowing traffic, and that trucks can use them without problems.
The route of the bypass would leave the existing U.S. 441 on the south side of Bishop at Astondale Road.
The route would follow Astondale Road to the east of Bishop before turning north and running on the western edge of the University of Georgia Equestrian Complex.
It would cross Old Bishop Road and then turn west to intersect with the existing U.S. 441 at High Shoals Road.
Traffic would be restricted to 45-miles-per-hour on the truck route and to 25 miles-per-hour on the existing route through Bishop.
The video of the meeting is below.
I shot the video from the back of the room using a camera on a walking stick rather than a tripod because of space limitations.
The sound in the video also picks up a lot of reverberations.
OCO: Bishop Council 3 12 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.
OF course you like it Johnny Pritchett. It works for you. It destroys my home and farm. Laurel Whitmire
This is a terrible concept unless your goal is to destroy farmland and the beauty of the surrounding area of bishop. Lost in this appears to be the increased risk to motorist who use Ashtondale to transort students to local schools and to bikers who frequently use this road.
This is about the dumbest plan yet. Even dumber than the plan to send trucks through Bishop. Create a real bypass around Bishop like the DOT did around Watkinsville and Madison and Eatonton. Of course farm land is going to be used for the bypass. Somebody's land is going to be used, what makes the farmers any more important than the rest of us along 441. DOT, get your heads out of your rear ends and get this done, the right way already!!
The govt. and pritchett dont care about the loss of farmland or someones home.There is no need of a bypass whatsoever.
So the Mayor thinks roundabouts are #fakenews and the residents of Bishop are complaining that GDOT found a route that uses minimal privately owned land. About what I expected.
You want to go back to the other ideas? All traffic through town or an even wider bypass that will require significantly more ROW acquisition of farmland through pressure and imminent domain?
Laurel Whitmire This plan does not appear to take your home or much of your land. First off let me say this plan is not what I want to see but what the Town of Bishop will have to live with. A small group calling themselves positive oconee changed the plans that had been in place for nearly 25 years by constant protest,BBQ for GDOT and showing up for the open house and filling out questionnaires at the open house. When I asked a GDOT official why did it change he said over 50% that filled out the questionnaires did not want the By-pass. I further asked how many they had filled out he said 56 so a little over 30 people made the decision. With the increasing traffic on this major US Highway something has to be done and as Mayor it's my job to look after the Town of Bishop.
So if the Mayor is telling the truth and I have no reason to question his truthfulness, the GDOT makes their decisions on who screams the loudest, not what is best for the the entire local population and the state as a whole!
Anonymous 9:48 a.m.
As I noted in the post, the GDOT officials also said costs were a factor in the decision.
First Johnny Pritchett, you need to take another look at that map. The Road cuts my property in half. I runs about 70 feet from my house, down through the pasture, by my pond, and up by the plant on Astondale. Did you think THAT was UGA property? And speaking of UGA, they told me in December and just yesterday that they won't be able to continue to host equestrian events in Bishop if this bypass goes through. You made a comment at the last meeting, which is on video tape saying that "nobody is going to be able to sell their property down here." For this reason alone I feel you should recuse yourself from the conversation. The traffic studies done last year - hard data - not just subjective opinions concluded that there was not enough traffic to warrant a bypass. But here we are. Perhaps you should stop insisting on a bypass and hiding behind your Mayoral title. The bypass RUINS my property, eliminates UGA's equestrian competitions and will cost people their homes.
Lee - I hope GDOT has a healthy land acquisition budget, because they are going to need it. This is arguably one of the prettiest properties in Bishop. My late parents built my house. My driveway has 60, 15 year old Bradford pears and it is stunning. All to be a part of the rite of way. GODT said last year a bypass wasn't needed, and yet, after the mayor and council threw a fit, we are getting one. Laurel Whitmire
Lee don’t expect me to believe it’s about money. The GDOT can say it but it ain’t true. It’s about control. When was the last time they did something they didn’t have to redo. They know a bypass is the way to go, they can install the roundabouts and a two lane bypass but a few years down the road all these people that think they will not be impacted will be faced with losing their land anyway. They might as well do but right the first time, but then that would cost less. Not the GDOT way of doing business.
This is Michael Prochaska with The Oconee Enterprise. I couldn't find your number in the White Pages but would love to talk to you. Can you email me at businessnews@oconeenterprise?
The DOT is not entirely honest. They say the overwhelming majority of people at a public hearing did not want a bypass (but they do not say that only 30 voted).
They say there is another roundabout on a state road (but they don't tell you that the only trucks this intersection sees, according to the public works director of that county, are sand trucks).
They say they have done these close roundabouts in other places in Georgia, but the US DOT office in Atlanta is not aware of one other case, and the DOT won't give you a location.
Several members of the citizens advisory committee are, interestingly enough, members of positive Oconee - including the BBQ sponsor Bill Douglass.
They want to mention saving money and the environment......yet they are buying up property in Young Harris (near Hiawassee) for a truck route. This will ruin the most beautiful section of our state, and it is not needed - I go up there often, and there are few trucks. They are not happy up there, either.
They say they will have educational programs on how to use the roundabouts....but they don't want to hear that cars are seen with tags from Alaska, Canada, and everywhere else, and no training will be possible for everybody. Carolyn p.
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