The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has changed its plans for the three western most SR 316 interchanges in Oconee County and is now proposing to build a full access interchange at McNutt Creek Road, to close access at Dials Mill Road, and to build a full access interchange at Dials Mill Extension.
Earlier plans had called for a full access interchange at Dials Mill Road and flyovers at McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Extension.
The changes in designs were announced at the Wednesday morning meeting of the MACORTS Technical Coordinating Committee.
Jody Woodall, Public Works Director for Oconee County and a member of the Committee, said that discussions the county had had with GDOT indicated that a full access intersection will now be built at McNutt Creek Road and not at Dials Mill Road.
SueAnne Decker, GDOT District PreConstruction Engineer, confirmed that a “tight urban design” full interchange will be built at McNutt Creek Road and that plans are in the works for an interchange at Dials Mill Extension.
She subsequently confirmed that no full access intersection will be built at Dials Mill Road and that the current plans are for that road to end in cul de sacs as it approaches SR 316 both from the south and the north.
A full-access interchange is planned for Dials Mill Extension, she said.
Reason For Change
A primary stimulus for the change in GDOT planning seems to have been the decision by the Georgia Division of Driver Services to build a new Customer Service Center and the Georgia State Patrol to build a new office on 13 acres the county donated to the state on McNutt Creek Road south of SR 316.
|Decker, Center, At MACORTS Virtual Meeting 7/26/2023|
The current Drivers Services Customer Service Office and State Patrol Office for this area are located at 1505 U.S. 29, in east Athens-Clarke County.
If McNutt Creek Road does not have a full interchange with SR 316, access to those new facilities will be very restricted.
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell has said that one of the anticipated benefits of giving the 13 acres to the state was a full access intersection.
Bogart has preferred a full interchange at McNutt Creek Road because that road becomes South Burson Avenue, which run into the heart of the city.
The county’s Fire Station No. 7 is on McNutt Creek Road just north of SR 316, and the full intersection will allow that station to better serve that part of the county.
Role Of MACORTS
MACORTS is the federally mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the northern part of Oconee County, which includes SR 316.
If federal dollars are to be used in constructing any of these intersections, MACORTS will have to review the funding and hold public hearings on the allocation of federal monies.
At the meeting on Wednesday, held virtually, I spoke in the Public Comment section and noted the role of MACORTS in any changes to plans for the McNutt Creek Road interchange.
I said there was a lot of interest in GDOT plans in the county for the interchanges and asked if any “insights might be shared at the end of your meeting when you go around the room about the status" of those intersections.
Technical Coordinating Committee Meetings usually end with reports from all of those present, and Chair Brad Griffin, when that time came in the meeting, suggested anyone present with knowledge address my request.
He turned first to Woodall, since he represents Oconee County.
Responses Of Woodall, Decker
“I think we are looking at an interchange at McNutt instead of an interchange and a bridge at Dials Mill/Dials Mill Extension,” Woodall responded. “One interchange for that location.”
Woodall then updated the group on other road projects in the county, saying the county is getting ready to do right of way acquisition on the multi-use trail on Hog Mountain Road east of Butler's Crossing, with construction bidding in the next few months.
The county also received right of way authorization for the roundabout on Hog Mountain Road at Snows Mill Road, he said, and work on the roundabout at Ray’s Church Road “is just a little bit behind.” Right of way authorization should be at the end of the calendar year, he said.
GDOT Engineer Decker followed Woodall and said she was not aware of McNutt Creek Road change in plans but could confirm that “we are going to do one interchange at Dials Mill Extension.”
Decker reported back to the group a few minutes later saying that “I’m looking at the updated project manager notes and it does say for McNutt Creek (that) proposed interchange is a tight urban design is what we’re going to go with.”
“So yes, you get an interchange at McNutt Creek,” she added.
Plans Sent By Decker After Meeting
I asked Decker in an email message after the meeting on Wednesday if she could “clarify the status of the Dials Mill Road interchange as well as of the Dials Mill Extension interchange?”
|Click To Enlarge|
“Dials Mill Rd and the Ext are too close together for both of them to be interchanges,” she wrote. “One will be closed and the other will be an interchange.”
“They are being treated in one project,” she continued. “So there will only be one interchange at this location. The attached layout shows the interchange at Dials Mill Ext and Dials Mill Rd being closed.”
“This is the current layout of the project,” she said. “We attempted to put the interchange at Dial Mill Rd first, but that did not work out.”
The layout Decker provided shows Dials Mill Extension realigned to create a 90 degree intersection with SR 316.
The eastbound on ramp from the realigned Dials Mill Extension to SR 316 and westbound off ramp from SR 316 to the realigned Dial Mill Extension stretches back to the location of the current Dials Mill Road.
Dials Mill Road will be closed just beyond the entrance to Dials Mill Plantation, whose residents have been vocal in their opposition to a full interchange at that site.
A video of the MACORTS Technical Coordination Committee meeting is available by following THIS LINK.
I made my comment at 0:54 in the video.
Woodall spoke at 12:39 in the video
Decker spoke first at 16:19 and then followed just shortly after that.