Sunday, September 08, 2019

Proposed Regional Transportation Plan Adds Pedestrian And Bicycle Facilities To Oconee County’s Hog Mountain And Daniells Bridge Roads

***Comment Sought At Meeting Monday Night***

The regional long range transportation plan now before the public for review makes significant changes to the current document and provides for both pedestrian and bicycle travel on two key roadways in Oconee County.

Both bicycle and pedestrian “facilities” would be added to Hog Mountain Road from Mars Hill Road in Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441, passing the Presbyterian Homes complex now under construction at the Hog Mountain Road intersection with U.S. 441.

Similarly, both bicycle and pedestrian “facilities” would be added to Daniells Bridge Road from its intersection with Mars Hill Road and the Oconee Connector to Hog Mountain Road.

The addition of sidewalks and bike paths or lanes to the two road would make a rough rectangle with Mars Hill Road.

The “rectangle,” which touches many of the residential neighborhoods in the northeastern part of the county, also would connect to Watkinsville, when planned improvements are made to Experiment Station Road, and to the shopping complexes on the Oconee Connector and Epps Bridge Parkway.

Mars Hill Road already has bike lanes and sidewalks, as does the Oconee Connector and Epps Bridge Parkway. Experiment Station Road will as well when that project is completed.

Both Daniells Bridge Road and Hog Mountain Road, previously planned to be four lanes in width, would be restricted to two lanes with turn lanes.

These changes to the MACORTS 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan will be presented to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. tomorrow (Monday) at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road. Citizens will be encouraged to offer comments on the plans.

Update Of 2040 Plan

MACORTS–the Madison Athens Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study–is the federally mandated metropolitan planning organization for the region.

Rectangle Of Mars Hill, Daniells Bridge, Hog Mountain

It reviews and prioritizes transportation projects in the north part of Oconee County that receive federal transportation funding.

The 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan is the five-year update from the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan and “identifies specific projects to address the transportation needs” within north Oconee County and the remainder of the metropolitan transportation area.

The draft of the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan–which will not be final until after public comment is received and the plan is adopted by the MACORTS Policy Committee–lists 13 projects in Oconee County.

The list does not include projects in the MACORTS 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program, such as the creation of multigrade intersections at SR 316 and the Oconee Connector and SR 316 at Dials Mill Road and improvements to the SR 316 interchange with SR Loop 10.

The widening of Experiment Station Road from Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441 is on the 2018-2021 list but not on the draft 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, but the widening of Experiment Station Road from U.S. 441 to Main Street is on both lists.

Constrained List

The 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan is constrained, meaning planners had a set amount of money and had to prioritize projects throughout the region to fit that amount of money.

Hog Mountain Road Project

The Georgia Department of Transportation told MACORTS it should plan for a little more than $474 million for projects during the period of 2025 to 2045.

Replacement of the Clotfelter Road bridge over Barber Creek was the top Oconee County project, at a cost of $1.7 million.

The second Oconee County project on the list is the coordination of a traffic signal on Epps Bridge Parkway at Parkway Boulevard with two others in Athens-Clarke County.

The third Oconee County project on the list is improvement to and reconstruction of the bridge over the Middle Oconee River at Simonton Bridge Road.

The fourth project is the Hog Mountain Road widening, and the fifth is the widening of Daniells Bridge Road from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road.

The sixth Oconee County project is improvements to the intersection of Hog Mountain Road and Ray’s Church Road and Malcom Bridge Road.

The seventh Oconee County item on the list is Phase III of the widening of Mars Hill Road/Experiment Station Road from SR 316 to SR 15 in downtown Watkinsville. Phase III is from U.S. 441 to Main Street (SR 15).

The remaining Oconee County projects involve signal upgrades, intersection improvements and construction of a SR 316 frontage road on the north side of SR 316 from Jimmy Daniell Road to Dials Mill Road.

The top overall project for the region is improvements to the intersection of SR Loop 10 at Lexington Road in Athens-Clarke County.

Changes In Plan

In the 2015-2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, Hog Mountain Road was to be widened from Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441 to four lanes with additional turn lanes as needed at an estimated cost of $38.9 million.

Daniells Bridge Road Project

In the draft 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the proposal is to widen Hog Mountain Road from Butler’s Crossing to U.S. 441 to two, 12-foot lanes and to “add additional turn lanes and bicycle and pedestrian facilities” at an estimated cost of $9.3 million.

In the 2015-2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, Daniells Bridge Road was to be widened and reconstructed from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road with turn lanes at a cost of $14.8 million. Discussion in the county also suggested that the roadway could be four lanes wide.

In the draft 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the proposal is to widen Daniells Bridge Road to “add additional turn lanes and bicycle and pedestrian facilities” from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road at an estimated cost of $20.6 million. Total number of lanes is set at two.

Project engineering and right of way acquisition for the Hog Mountain Road project is projected for the 2019 to 2025 period.

For the Daniells Bridge Road widening, project engineering is projected to be in the 2019 to 2025 period, but right of way acquisition is not projected until 2026 to 2035.

Connect Neighborhoods

The draft MACORTS 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan lists as one of its goals providing “interconnected bicycle and pedestrian network(s) as viable transportation options” and providing “for safe bicycle and pedestrian access between activity and residential centers.”

The draft plan does not spell out how the inclusion of bike and pedestrian “facilities” on Hog Mountain Road and Daniells Bridge Road would provide that outcome for Oconee County, but the impact could be great.

Subdivisions off Daniells Bridge Road, such as Founders Grove and Settlers Ridge, Welbrook Farms (where I live), Birchmore Hills, and Lake Wellbrook, would connect to subdivisions off Mars Hill Road, such as Windy Creek and Northwest Woods, as well as to subdivisions off Hog Mountain Road, such as Daniell’s Plantation.

All of these would connect via sidewalks and bike lanes to Epps Bridge Centre when the flyover of SR 316 is completed and to Watkinsville when the widening of Experiment Station Road is completed.

Hog Mountain Road would even link to the Presbyterian Homes facility at U.S. 441.

When the roadways in the Parkside subdivision, between Mars Hill Road and Hog Mountain Road, are opened, it would be possible to bike from Watkinsville or any of the subdivisions along the connected rectangle to Oconee Veterans Park without using a major highway that does not have a bike lane.

Flyover

The draft MACORTS 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan continues to list the Daniells Bridge Road Extension and flyover of SR Loop 10 to connect to the stub of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot on the unfunded project list.

Map Of Projects In Region (Click To Enlarge)

That is unchanged from the project’s status in the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.

In August of 2017, the MACORTS Policy Committee removed the proposed flyover connecting Daniells Bridge Road with the Oconee Connector from its funded 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.

The Policy Committee added five projects to its 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan to accommodate the Construction Work Program of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Policy Committee also removed the project from its 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program, where it had been included with preliminary funding.

Comments

The public information meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. tomorrow evening will use a drop-in format with no formal presentation.

MACORTS staff will be available to provide information and answer questions about the draft 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan at the meeting.

Comments also can be e-mailed to MACORTS staff at macorts@accgov.com or faxed to 706-613-3844.

It also is possible to send comments using the form at the bottom of this page on the MACORTS web site.

Public comments will be accepted through Sept. 17.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can you justify this much money for so few?

Anonymous said...

It's not for "so few"...It's for everyone!

Sidewalks are for everyone, even car owners. Some people are walking for pleasure, some people are walking for health, and some people walk because they have to. You may drive to work, but sidewalks allow kids to walk to school, the elderly to exercise, and, most importantly, citizens to mingle.

Unknown said...

With increased pedestrian and bicyclist deaths, I feel these sidewalks and bike routes are paramount. An "ounce of prevention" may be well worth the cost upfront to safeguard our future and the community.

Anonymous said...

Bike lanes make it safer and enhance road use for both cars and bikes. Wish they were separated, but it allows traffic to move without the "inconvenience" of passing a cyclist and gives a margin of safety to the cyclists. Win Win

Anonymous said...

The problem is, the county never connects county roads to the state roads with sidewalks, so you have to walk on the narrow county road with the grass on the roadside waist high to get to a sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

Walking alongside Mars Hill Rd (Davis-Boswell Freeway) is like walking on a racetrack, since the speed limits are rarely enforced or followed. Any word on whether the authorities will officially allow large trucks? They have certainly taken over the road.

Becky Moore said...

Bravo! I hope they are wide enough and include safety curbs. Lower emissions, more exercise and leisure- our family is thrilled! Very positive direction for making us less vehicle dependent! This can strengthen community interaction also.

Anonymous said...

The bike and sidewalks are always a factor in such highway designs. Please don’t think our local politicians had the forward thinking to add to road design. It is mandated. They will take the credit, but good luck if you had to get them to include sidewalks and bike lanes.

Anonymous said...

Neither god or man will ever create a safe 2 wheel vichicle.

Xardox said...

Whatever estimate is being given at the present,
multiply by somewhere between two and three.