Saturday, February 27, 2021

Construction Scheduled To Begin In 2024 For SR 316 Intersection Projects In Oconee County

***GDOT Wants To “Transform” Gwinnett-To-Oconee Corridor***

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 on four of nine intersection projects in Oconee County that are part of a massive effort to transform SR 316 into what the Georgia Department of Transportation is calling “a freeway-style corridor.”

Included in the initial construction is a “bundle” of projects that will include multi-grade intersections at the Oconee Connector and SR 316 and at Jimmy Daniell Road and SR 316.

The “bundle” also includes a bridge carrying Virgil Langford Road, currently blocked, across SR 316.

Construction also is scheduled for 2024 for what now appears likely to be a bridge over SR 316 at Dials Mill Extension in the far west of the county.

Documents assembled on a special web page of GDOT for SR 316 show a total of 31 projects beginning at SR 20 in Gwinnett County and continuing to the intersection of SR 316 and SR 10 Loop in Oconee County.

The nine projects in Oconee County are, from west to east, improvements to SR 316 intersections with Dials Mill Extension, Dials Mill Road, McNutt Creek Road, Mars Hill Road, Julian Drive, Jimmy Daniell Road, Virgil Langford Road, the Oconee Connector, and SR Loop 10.

Design work for all of the Oconee County projects is incomplete, but the current cost estimate for the nine projects is $262 million, with construction start dates beginning in 2024 and running through 2032.

December Document

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said he received notice of the preliminary schedule for the nine Oconee County intersection projects in December.

Daniell reviewed that schedule on Monday night in a presentation he gave to the Oconee County Republican Party on the state of the county.

The GDOT document Daniell received is available on the Oconee County web site, but it contains an error.

The project at the bottom, far right, is incorrectly labeled Oconee Connector, and the construction cost also is wrong.

The Project Number is correct and is for unspecified “Reconstruction/Rehabilitation” of the SR 10 Loop interchange. Construction Cost is estimated at $9.9 million.

The Oconee County specific document on the Oconee County web site is an except from a larger GDOT document, which also is on the Oconee County web site. That document also contains the error in labeling the SR 10 Loop interchange.

I created the map and spreadsheet below based on the various documents on the GDOT web site to correct that error and to standardize the information presented.

Recreated Project List And Map From GDOT Documents

Funding Source

The nine SR 316 intersection projects also are listed in the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan of MACORTS, the planning organization for the urbanized area that includes the northern part of Oconee County through which SR 316 runs.

MACORTS is the conduit through which federal highway funding comes to the area.

In the original version of the 2045 Plan, all nine of the Oconee County SR 316 projects were listed as being funded exclusively by HB 170. The General Assembly in 2015 increased the state taxes on fuels to generate more roadway funding.

The MACORTS Policy Committee modified that 2045 Plan in October of last year to designate $2.9 million in federal funding for right of way acquisition and preliminary engineering for the Jimmy Daniell Road interchange.

To accomplish that, the Policy Committee approved defunding for the 2036 to 2045 period for a proposed frontage road along SR 316 from Dials Mill Road to Mars Hill Road.

Four Projects

The documents released by GDOT promoting the changes to SR 316 designate the actual character of four of the nine intersections upgrades.

The most advanced of the projects is a new multi-grade interchange at the Oconee Connector.

GDOT designated $4.3 million in preliminary engineering funding for this project in 2019. Right of way acquisition is designated to start in 2024, with construction money also designated for that year.

Total project cost is estimated at $75.2 million

Jimmy Daniell Road also is marked as a new multi-grade interchange.

Preliminary engineering is scheduled to start in 2023, with right of way acquisition in 2024 and construction starting that same year. Total project cost is estimated at $74.9 million.


Virgil Langford Road is designated as a new bridge in the documents provided to Daniell in December. Construction is to start in 2024.

In that document, and on the GDOT web site, only $1.7 million is set aside for construction, with no money designated for engineering or right of way acquisition.

Jody Woodall, Public Works director for Oconee County, told me on Thursday he could offer no explanation for that funding, which he said alone would be inadequate for construction of a bridge over SR 316.

He said that he understood there would be some savings by bundling the three interchanges–the Connector, Virgil Langford and Jimmy Daniell Road.

The intersection of SR 316 with SR 10 Loop also is designated as an interchange in the GDOT documents.

The intersection already is a partial interchange, and GDOT documents list the work as “reconstruction/rehabilitation” without providing details.

The documents list project engineering in 2030 and construction in 2032 with a total cost of $10.8 million.

Dials Mill Road

The type of intersection is not marked for any of the five remaining Oconee County projects on the GDOT list.

Woodall said the prices listed suggest that enough money is being designated for an interchange only at one of the five: Dials Mill Road.

The other four are likely to be bridges, given the figure provided by GDOT at this time, he said.

Preliminary engineering is to begin this year on the Dials Mill Road intersection, with right of way acquisition in 2023 and construction in 2025.

Total cost of the project of $38.9 million.

Four Likely Bridges

Preliminary engineering is to begin this year for what seems likely to be a bridge at Dials Mill Extension, with right of way acquisition in 2023 and construction in 2024.

Total cost of the project is $16.6 million.

Preliminary engineering is budgeted in 2022 for the McNutt Creek Road intersection. Right of way acquisition to scheduled to follow in 2024, and construction in 2026.

Total cost of the project is $17.1 million.

Preliminary engineering for the Mars Hill Road intersection is listed as 2023, with right of way acquisition in 2025 and construction in 2027.

Total cost is $12.9 million.

Preliminary engineering for what appears likely to be a bridge at Julian Drive is scheduled for 2024, with right of way acquisition in 2026, and construction in 2028.

Total cost for this intersection project is $13.8 million.

Full Project

GDOT has developed a separate web section for what it calls “Transforming SR 316 Reconstruction Projects (Gwinnett to Oconee).”

“Georgia DOT is developing a series of reconstruction projects along SR 316 from SR 20 in Gwinnett County to SR 10 in Athens - Oconee County,” the site states.

“The need for these projects is based on the existing and future traffic congestion and historic crash rates along this corridor,” the text continues. “Once completed, the changes will upgrade sections of SR 316 to a freeway-style corridor, improve traffic flow conditions, and reduce the number of crashes.”

The web site contains separate tabs for Gwinnett, Barrow, and Oconee counties. (The hot links above goes to Tab 3 for Oconee County.)

Nine of the projects are in Gwinnett County, and 13 are in Barrow County.

Several of the projects in Gwinnett and Barrow already are under construction.

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