The Georgia Transportation Board last week approved a Joint Resolution with the State Road and Tollway Authority for construction of three bundles of road projects along SR 316, including the Oconee County interchanges at Jimmy Daniell Road, Virgil Langford Road, and the Oconee Connector.
While the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) is a state-level, independent Authority created by the Georgia General Assembly to operate tolled transportation facilities within Georgia, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) officials told the Transportation Board no tolls will be collected for the SR 316 projects.
Andrew Hoenig, GDOT Construction Program Manager, said the agreement with SRTA will provide more flexibility in managing the funding of the three bundles, expected to cost in the neighborhood of $350 million.
Construction on the first of these three projects in Barrow County is expected to begin at the end of 2024, and construction of the three Oconee County intersections is expected to follow shortly after that.
GDOT is holding a public meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at the Bogart Community Center, 141 East Thompson Street, and from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 6 at the Winder Library, 189 Bellview Street, to discuss these three projects.
GDOT has said the meeting tomorrow night also will focus on a Planning Study for the SR 316 corridor that will identify improvements beyond the currently programmed SR 316 reconstruction projects.
The county is expected to get improved access to SR 316 at McNutt Creek Road as a result of its decision to donate land on that road for a new Department of Driver Service Customer Service Center and Georgia State Patrol Office.
Hoenig made no mention of these additional projects in his presentation to the Program Delivery Committee of the state Transportation Board last week before the Transportation Board voted to partner with SRTA on the three SR 316 project bundles. The Board is the governing body for GDOT.
The first bundle of projects Hoenig presented to the Program Delivery Committee on May 17 involves SR 211/Bethlehem Road, Barber Creek Road, and Craft Road, the roadways west of Dials Mill Extension and Dials Mill Road on SR 316 in Oconee County.
|Screen Shot Boswell Reporting To Transportation Board|
SR 211/Bethlehem Road and Barber Creek Road will have full interchanges with SR 316, while Craft Road will be closed at the four-lane highway.
Barber Creek Road is the access to the Georgia Club, which straddles the Oconee and Barrow county line.
When Hoenig finished summarizing that bundle to the Program Delivery Committee, Athens Commercial Realtor Jamie Boswell, who chairs that Committee, asked Hoenig about plans for the Dials Mill Road and the Dials Mill Extension interchanges.
Boswell represents Oconee County and the rest of the 10th Congressional District on the Transportation Board and presented the recommendation of the Program Delivery Committee to the full Transportation Board on May 18.
Boswell also is the owner of the Boswell Group, which is listing nine tracts of land at the Dials Mill Road intersection with SR 316.
Just prior to Craft Road, Boswell said to Hoenig, “is Dials Mill, Dials Mill Extension, which is not included, but I guess that is being studied, is that correct?”
“That is correct,” Hoenig said. “I’m pretty sure that Program Delivery has a project at Dials Mill. I’m not sure of the schedule. But I do know they are looking at improvements to be made there.”
“All of this obviously is great news for us,” Boswell said, laughing. “If you get on 316, it is wonderful.”
Hoenig said the improvements will improve the travel time on SR 316.
Boswell did not ask about McNutt Creek Road or any other intersections in Oconee County.
A rough map that Hoenig used in beginning his presentation showed what appears to be Dials Mill Extension as closed, a full interchange at Dials Mill Road, and Right In, Right Out intersections at McNutt Creek Road and Mars Hill Road.
Those two intersections are marked as Under Evaluation.
Also Under Evaluation on that map is a full interchange at what appears to be Julian Drive.
While the first bundle is expected to cost about $100 million, Bundle Two, involving Jimmy Daniell Road, Virgil Langford Road, and the Oconee Connector, is expected to cost about $150 million.
Both Jimmy Daniell Road and the Oconee Connector will have full access to SR 316, while Virgil Langford Road will be a flyover bridge.
“Even though there’s not going to be ramps because it is so tight with Oconee Connector,” Hoenig said of the Virgil Langford flyover, “there is really good connectivity back to Oconee Connector and to Jimmy Daniell.”
The map that Hoenig presented showed a 1.5 minute trip time from the Virgil Langford bridge to the Jimmy Daniell Road interchange and a 1 minute trip to the Oconee Connector interchange.
Oconee County has a fire station on Virgil Langford Road near the planned flyover.
The third bundle is at Carl-Bethlehem Road and at Kilcrease Road in Barrow County.
|Screen Shot Hoenig Before Program Delivery Committee |
A full interchange is planned for Kilcrease Road, but only a flyover is planned for Carl-Bethlehem Road.
Hoenig said that GDOT is expecting construction to begin in the fall of 2024 on Bundle One, with completion in 2027 to 2028.
Bundle Two and Bundle Three will follow only slightly behind that first bundle, Hoenig said.
Hoenig said that the Joint Resolution with SRTA gives GDOT more financial flexibility. GDOT has partnered with SRTA on similar large projects in the recent past, he added.
“It is a good way to use SRTA’s strengths for multi-year funding,” he said. “It enables us to fund the project of a three to four year period rather than a longer period on design-build projects.”
Hoenig said that the Joint Resolution defines the roles, responsibilities, and relationships for SRTA, GDOT, and the Design-Build teams that are awarded the contracts for the construction.
GDOT will select the Design-Build Team and will function as the project manager to SRTA, he said.
SRTA will enter into the project agreement with the selected Design-Build team, he said.
“We have the expertise on the design-build, procurement side,” Hoenig said. “We’ve done a lot design-build projects of this size before. So it is really leveraging GDOT’s strengths along with SRTA’s strengths.”
Hoenig said the agreement will grant SRTA “the necessary property rights in the corridor so they can fulfill their obligations.”
The agreement will stipulate “how much we are giving them on an annual basis to fund the project," Hoenig said. SRTA will be doing the monthly invoicing, he added.
According to the SRTA web site, the Authority acts as the transportation financing arm for the State. SRTA also manages the collection of tolls on Georgia’s Express Lanes System through the use of Peach Pass, the state’s all-electronic tolling technology.
SRTA has the authority to finance any type of transportation improvement using traditional methods of financing such as bonds, loans, notes and equity partnerships, the web site states.
SRTA is governed by a five-member Board of Directors chaired by the Governor of Georgia. GDOT Commission Russell McMurry is one of the five members of the Board.
The Program Delivery Committee unanimously approved the Joint Resolution with SRTA on May 17, and the Transportation Board unanimously approved the resolution the following day.
SRTA is expected to take up the resolution at its next meeting.
The video of the Transportation Board meeting on May 18 and of its Program Delivery Committee on May 17 are on the YouTube channel of GDOT.
The first video below is of the Board meeting.
Boswell gave his report at 32:28 in the video, and the resolution passed at 33:40.
The second video below is of the Committee meetings on May 17.
The Program Delivery Committee meeting starts at 39:42 in the video.
Boswell asks about Dials Mill at 44:06 in the video.
Discussion of Bundle Two in Oconee County begins at 45:06 in the video.
I attended the public meeting in Bogart. GDOT said the meeting was to discuss the planning study so it wasn't particularly helpful. The specifics on the timing of 316 work (Bundles 1-3) would be on their website. The presentation in the video is fuzzy on the dates of when and Bundles 2 (Oconee Connector, Jimmy Daniel, Virgil Langford) and 3 would start. There's a lot of transportation-speak to digest.
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