Friday, March 16, 2018

University Of Georgia Tells State Department Of Transportation Of Concerns About Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***Could Move Equestrian Facility***

The University of Georgia Athletic Department has told the state Department of Transportation that it has “serious concerns” about the proposal to build a truck bypass of U.S. 441 on the eastern side of Bishop bordering on the university’s equestrian facility on Astondale Road.

Athletic Director Greg McGarity acknowledged the “commitment from GDOT to mitigate the noise associated with the construction of the bypass as well as the actual traffic associated with the completed bypass.”

“Our serious concerns remain regarding the current plan--the uncertainty that this presents to the safety and overall operation of our Women's Equestrian program,” McGarity said in a letter he sent to Jamie Boswell, who represents the 10th Congressional District on and is chairman of the State Transportation Board.

McGarity said construction of the bypass as proposed could force the Athletic Department to relocate its equestrian facility.

The Department of Transportation and its consultants released preliminary details of its plan for a truck bypass of Bishop at the Bishop City Council meeting on Monday night and are scheduled to release more complete information at a meeting scheduled for 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Oconee Veterans Park on Hog Mountain Road.

Monday Meeting

The meeting on Monday will be the second with the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) for the US 441 Improvements.

Proposed Truck Bypass Would Take Some Land

At the meeting with the Bishop City Council, Albert V. Shelby III, state program delivery engineer, refused to release maps or specific details of the proposal, saying they would be released first to the Citizen Advisory Committee on Monday night.

GDOT consultants did project a map on the screen in the room that showed the truck bypass leaving the existing U.S. 441 on the south side of Bishop at Astondale Road.

From that point, the bypass 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.

The bypass then would cross Old Bishop Road and turn west to intersect with the existing U.S. 441 at High Shoals Road.

Two Lanes Shown

The projected map showed the bypass as a two-lane road, but Shelby said the decision on the number of lanes would be based on further study of traffic.

In the presentation, the transportation officials said the truck bypass would take some land from the University of Georgia equestrian facility and pass very close to two houses on Old Bishop Road, possibly necessitating the purchase of those two properties.

The map showed an earthen berm separating the highway from the equestrian facility and other noise-abatement walls along the truck route.

The proposal is for roundabouts at either end of the truck route where it meets U.S. 441.

McGarity’s Letter

McGarity began his letter to Boswell by thanking GDOT for allowing the university to review the plans for the roadway.

The 14-member State Transportation Board has general control over and provides supervision of the Department of Transportation.

McGarity’s letter is not dated, but J. Griffin Doyle, vice president for Government Relations at the university, who provided the letter to me, said it was written on Feb. 15.

“The current path is identical to the path we reviewed in September 2017, and nearly identical to the original one we first saw in July 2017,” McGarity wrote.

“Our primary concern is the uncertainty of the noise and its impact on the safe operation of our program,” McGarity wrote. “We understand that GDOT is considering making US441 a four-lane road throughout Georgia.

“If the proposed widening were to include the bypass, needless to say, it would significantly increase our concerns about noise and safety,” McGarity wrote.

Relocated Once

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia purchased the 65.6 acres for the equestrian facility in 2009, according to county tax records. The property is valued at $876,438.

Prior to 2009, the equestrian facility was at the intersection of South Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road in Athens-Clarke County.

“The decision to relocate the facility to its current location in Bishop was based primarily on increased noise in the area due to increased traffic,” McGarity told Boswell.

“The move was costly, and the Athletic Association invested significant resources in the move in order to ensure the safe operation of the program.

“We now fear we could be in the same position we were back in 2009--being forced to find a new location for our student-athletes to train and compete, causing tremendous expense and disruption for our program,” McGarity wrote.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a terrible, horrible plan.

How can one loud voice in a tiny 'village' that is nothing more than a wide spot in the road (regardless of 'historic' status) command such power?

As we've mentioned before, there are traffic concerns at the intersection of Old Bishop and 441 once a day, later in the afternoon, from about 3:00 to 4:30 pm. And the backups only affect northbound traffic on Price Mill. We pass through that intersection on a daily basis. BTW, football games don't count, or we'd have to rebuild every feeder road within 200 miles of Athens and all local access roads! To spend all that money carving up beautiful countryside and destroying valuable, priceless really, property is nothing short of criminal. The 3-Lane plan with roundabouts was a sensible, cost-effective alternative and we should all be crying more LOUDLY than the mayor to thwart this travesty.

My goodness, we cannot let this happen!

Anonymous said...

Having the NCAA team in Bishop is a huge asset for this area and it would be such a shame to see it go. Any new road needs to be a part of a well thought long-term solution that includes alleviating the traffic moving through Watkinsville. It's time the people of this county and Bishop say "enough is enough" to these short sighted town officials who are trying to drive through this horrible truck route that is going to ruin land in the heart of this area and achieve nothing.

Anonymous said...

What makes the property of these people who are complaining and do not want it want it done correctly more valuable than the property of the people of Bishop? EVERYONE knows a bypass is needed that can some way incorporate Highway 15 as well. The traffic through Bishop and Watkinsville is horrendous! As far as all the talk of the farmland being is destroyed, the GDOT constructs roads through farmland every day of the week. What you think happened when the Athens bypass was built, as well as the Watkinsville bypass and every other road of this nature in the state of Georgia?

Xardox said...

That the objection is to the noise of construction and of truck traffic later on, when the trucks travel through the center of town within easy earshot of the Equestrian Center now is one of the silliest pieces of claptrap I think I've actually heard otherwise educated adults ever say.
Who are they answering to really?
Speaking of power for one person, the loudest voice opposing a Bishop Bypass is a proponent of the two roundabouts, trying to avoid putting off a bypass which is CLEARLY in the future of Bishop. Waiting until it is far more expensive, more disruptive to the influx, and after the choke points have reached even worse proportions does not make good sense. Sorry, dividing one farm to provide safer traffic on a major US highway is logical and smart.
It seems apparent also that the Watkinsville Bypass was of great advantage to Main Street of our town.
Too bad the desires of the residents of that beleaguered town don't seem to mean a whole lot.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, anonymous, I have little sympathy for the people in downtown Bishop who CHOSE TO BUY A ROAD NEXT TO A HIGHWAY. What did they expect was going to happen? Did they think traffic would decrease? So now, when predictably the traffic has grown heavier over the years they expect to Government to just pave a new road and return their street to the sleepy road it once was. Unbelievably selfish.

And Xardox, It's not just one farm.

Anonymous said...

Annonymous 5:30 - so they’re selfish but you and the people like you are not, don’t you want to keep what is yours? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black! Some of the people in Bishop have owned their land for generations so the road changed on them not the other way around.

cb121 said...

I have no dog in this fight now, but I used to live off by golden pantry in bishop. I was there for 6 years and traveled on 441 into athens every weekday and it was and is very busy through bishop. Now there's a lot of old land inheritance in that area so I know that some few (hopefully as little as possible) will have to sell land, but as a community there needs to be a rational solution between land row purchase and keeping historical ruralness of South oconee. And that seems to be nearly impossible sounding but there needs to also be a 4 lane bypass incorporated, the two lane roundabouts isn t going to work especially during game day weekends.

Zippity said...

The GDOT proposal is a compromise. It preserves the farms (many are impacted, not one) and moves traffic out of Bishop. It is on the edge of the UGA property and includes berms to reduce the impact of noise and visual pollution. Is it a perfect plan? No, but it impacts the fewest people at the least cost and reduces traffic in downtown Bishop.

Anonymous said...

UGA has a whole lot of gall. They bullied Melvin Davis with the Experiment Station/UNG traffic light route. It's a silly design but they are the Almighty University of Georgia and Melvin folded like a house of cards.

UGA's input on the Bishop bypass is no more or less important than any of the property owner's involved, or of any Bishop resident.

Kinda tired of UGA's sanctimony. Time for someone to stand up to them. They are just one of many with input on the bypass. What do thy actually contribute to Bishop & Oconee County? Are they even really good neighbors?

Anonymous said...

Any plan that does not make a wide loop around Bishop is temporary and a waste of money. It may not be in 5 years, but it will certainly happen within 10 to 15 years, if they don't do it now, it will happen. Stop putting off the inevitable and and letting the land owners along the path dictate the path of a major state Hwy that is meant to server the entire state, not just the 10 to 15 farmers that will lose some of their land (you will get paid for what they take). The GDOT is playing stupid games with you all, pitting you against each other in hopes that they can drum up enough voices to pick the plan that will eventually have to be put into place. Stop wasting our money, time, and most importantly emotions and tell the truth about what has to be done and is going to happen eventually. A wide loop around Bishop like they have in Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, ...
Farmers.... deal with it. Fight to get the $$$ for your land and go buy more far enough off the beaten path so you won't have to do this again.