Friday, February 22, 2019

GDOT Announces Public Meetings On U.S. 441 Widening and Bishop Bypass

***Maps Unchanged***

The Georgia Department of Transportation has scheduled two meetings in March to give the public the opportunity to review plans for the widening of U.S. 441 from Madison to Watkinsville.

The plans the public will review are the same as those presented by GDOT last year and include the close-in, two-lane truck bypass on the east side of Bishop.

After the two hearings, GDOT will make “any necessary adjustments” to the preliminary design, according to an announcement late yesterday.

Right of way acquisition is expected to take place in 2021, which the project let for construction in 2023.

The first open house on the plans will be from 5 to 7 p.m. March 12 at the Morgan County High School Cafeteria in Madison, and the second will be from 5 to 7 p.m. March 19 at Oconee County’s Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing.

The two meetings will follow an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 7, also at Oconee County Veterans Park, on the planned replacement of the SR 186 Bridge over the Apalachee River at High Shoals.

Project Update

Bruce Anderson, GDOT project manager, sent out an email message at 5:30 yesterday (Thursday) announcing the meetings.

Project Area Map (Click To Enlarge)

Included was a single-page newsletter announcing the two hearings on the U.S. 441 improvements.

“Since our last newsletter in June 2018,” the newsletter states, “the design teams have been working to complete draft preliminary designs of the US 441 corridor improvements.

“The teams have also completed the environmental surveys for Ecology and History and completed the initial field work for Archaeology. The underground and overhead Utilities surveys have also been completed.

“The public can now review the projects and provide comment at in-person open houses and an online survey,” the newsletter states.

Attached Maps

The newsletter links to two maps, one of the overall project and the other of the Bishop Bypass.

Both show the four-laning of U.S. 441 from the Madison Bypass to the Watkinsville Bypass following the existing U.S. 441 except for at Bishop.

The detailed map of the Bishop Bypass is the same one released last year.

Two lanes of traffic flow through the city, while two lanes of truck traffic follow a new road to the east of the city.

Time Line

In the newsletter, Anderson states that, “After hearing from the public, GDOT will make any necessary adjustments to the preliminary designs.

“After preliminary plans are complete, GDOT will begin to acquire right-of-way for the project followed by geotechnical investigations, final design, and construction.

“Construction of the projects is expected to occur no sooner than 2022,” the newsletter says.

The tentative schedule on the project website says that concept plans will be revised in 2019 and that preliminary plans will be completed in 2020.

Right of way is listed as in 2021 and the letting of bids for construction in 2023.

June Update

The just-released newsletter follows the one issued in June.

At that time, Anderson announced that the project team had completed environmental field studies for ecological and historical resources and that archaeology field surveys were underway.

“The timing and location of these surveys do not indicate any final decision about project alignments or preclude changes to the current concept,” the newsletter said. “Rather, the gathered data is utilized to make engineering decisions and keeps the project moving forward.”

Anderson also announced the two meetings, now scheduled for next month.

“At the meetings, the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the roadway plans before any decisions are finalized,” according to the June newsletter.

The June newsletter also defended the use of roundabouts, which will be used at the U.S. 441 intersections with Astondale Road and SR 186 (High Shoals Road).

These are the beginning and end points for the truck bypass.

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