The Georgia Department of Transportation rolled out its plans for a truck bypass of Bishop as part of its upgrade of U.S. 441 to a generally receptive Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee last (Monday) night at Oconee Veterans Park.
The plans were unchanged from those previewed to the Bishop City Council last week and call for a close-in, two-lane truck bypass on the east side of Bishop that would begin at Astondale Road on the south and reconnect with U.S. 441 on the north at High Shoals Road.
The meeting was GDOT’s opportunity to present the plans to its Citizens Advisory Committee, but the small room at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park was full beyond capacity with others interested in the project at the 5 p.m. start time.
Project Manager Bruce G. Anderson Jr. initially told the audience that the meeting was held to get feedback from the Citizen Advisory Committee and that the audience would not be allowed to ask questions.
As the meeting progressed, Anderson allowed questions from an audience that generally seemed less supportive of the plans than the Citizen Advisory Committee members seated around the table.
Anderson and his team of Georgia Department of Transportation consultants said the maps they presented to the group of the route were preliminary and would not be released until they were firmed up.
I asked Anderson for a copy of the presentation, which included the maps, after the meeting broke up and said I would file an open records request for them if necessary.
Anderson sent me late today the map below, which is stamped DRAFT. The map shown at the meeting was not so marked but otherwise appears to be the same.
|Draft Map Of Truck Bypass of Bishop (Click To Enlarge)|
I have put the map on the box.net site of Oconee County Observations as well, and it can be downloaded HERE.
What Map Shows
The map, also presented to the Bishop City Council on March 14, shows the bypass leaving 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 facility.
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 bypass and U.S. 441 would connect on the south and on the north with roundabouts.
The route is shown as two-lane–one in each direction–and Anderson and his consultants said the plans are for only two lanes at this point. They also indicated that traffic analysis would need to be done before that was changed.
Four-Laning of U.S. 441
Claudia M. Bilotto and Kerrie Boyette, Georgia Department of Transportation consultants, made the presentation to the Citizen Advisory Committee and fielded questions from the Committee and from the audience.
Bilotto is with WSP USA and Boyette is with KCI Technologies. Both consulting firms have offices in the Atlanta area.
U.S. 441 will be widened to four lanes from the Watkinsville bypass to the Madison Bypass, the team said.
In Oconee County, except for the Bishop area, the route will follow the existing right of way for U.S. 441 and will use that roadway and right of way as part of the widened roadway.
U.S. 441 also would be a four lane road at Bishop, they said, with two lanes running through Bishop itself and two lanes on the bypass.
Bishop Mayor Johnny Pritchett and Farmington resident Buddy Murrow, both members of the Citizen Advisory Committee, were very critical at the March meeting of the Committee when GDOT said it had abandoned its plans for a more easterly route for a bypass.
Both said last night that they could accept the new route proposal, though Pritchett, at the end of the meeting, urged people in the audience to write to GDOT and advocate for the more easterly bypass.
Anderson said at the meeting last night as well as at the meeting in Bishop a week ago that the more easterly bypass is no longer being considered.
Pritchett also argued that the roundabouts will not work, in part because people in Oconee County don’t know how to use them.
At least 49 people, in addition to the 11 members of the Citizen Advisory Committee, attended the meeting at the Community Center.
They were joined by eight GDOT representatives.
In the video below, Anderson asked the staff seated around the table and Citizen Advisory Committee members to introduce themselves, starting at 0:52.
Bilotto presented a video simulation of traffic moving around the bypass, with commentary, starting at 12:28.
The simulation begins at the roundabout for the bypass connection with U.S. 441 at High Shoals Road.
She is joined in the commentary by Boyette, on the right.
It was a good meeting and this is a reasonable compromise after many years of discussion.
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