West F’ville Bypass has been around a while

Tue, 12/23/2008 - 4:54pm
By: Ben Nelms

There were plenty of concerns, questions and emotions recently at the “Fayette Forward” future transportation public meeting expressed by those in disagreement with plans for Phase 2 of the West Fayetteville Bypass.

Nearly half of the 180 attending discussed the bypass issue with county Public Works Director Phil Mallon outside the meeting.

Many during and after the meeting said they were not satisfied with the project, while others said they had received little information or notice on the west bypass.

Yet a survey of articles written by The Citizen and information supplied by the county show that significant information on the east and west bypass projects was available prior to the Nov. 2004 vote when the 1-cent sales tax to fund numerous road projects was approved by voters.

So when did the idea of having a bypass around Fayetteville emerge?

Information in The Citizen archives showed reports on comments by Fayette County Commission on the need for an east bypass around Fayetteville in 2000. The archives also contains a February 2000 letter to the editor citing concern over the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and the bypass and other projects it would fund.

Information obtained from Fayette County shows a 1985 Land Use Plan with a map of “Future Thoroughfares” that included a needed roadway along the same route as the current west bypass.

The county also identified a May 1990 report from consultant Moreland Altobelli outlining the county’s first comprehensive transportation improvement plan.

The document recommended bypasses on Fayetteville’s east and west sides, though the west bypass was referenced as the “Central Parkway.” The plan had no funding or subsequent implementation.

In December 1996, a study entitled Fayette County Transportation Study-Interim Report and compiled for the Association of Fayette County Governments was completed and adopted by all entities in 1997.

The project included seven public meetings and a questionnaire to solicit public input, according to county documents.

Similar to the 1990 study, the report identified and recommended both bypass projects. The west bypass route was the same as the current route, though the east bypass route differed slightly from current plans, county records showed.

In April 2003, the county commission, with input from the municipalities, accepted the Fayette County Transportation Plan-Final Report. The plan, according to information supplied by the county, was the catalyst for discussions on holding a SPLOST referendum. The plan recommended the construction of an east and west bypass.

And on Oct. 28, 2003, county commissioners met with all municipalities to establish countywide transportation priorities. The top three projects identified were the east bypass, the widening of Ga. Highway 54 from Fayetteville to Clayton County and the west bypass.

Numerous articles in The Citizen archives noted discussions and meetings throughout 2003 and 2004. A number of those included challenges on the prioritization of the SPLOST projects, especially by Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown. The referendum was held in November and passed 51 percent to 49 percent.

Some have wondered why the west bypass project is currently underway, yet no construction has occurred on the east bypass. It is not that the west bypass has been given priority, Mallon said Tuesday; it is the steps involved in the two projects.

A number of state and federal requirements and the accompanying permits are tied to the east bypass project, Mallon said.

Archeological and environmental studies, some of which are currently being conducted, are tied to the process. The east bypass includes more roadway and more bridges and is too costly to be paid for using only SPLOST dollars.

And with partial state and federal funding comes state and federal requirements, including longer time frames to get construction started.

As for the west bypass, Mallon said Phase 1 required fewer studies and fewer dollars, which accommodated the current construction from Hwy. 54 and heading northeast to Sandy Creek Road.

Mallon said a similar number of studies might hold true for Phase 2 of the project that will connect Sandy Creek Road to Westbridge Road.

He said work on the proposed alignment for Phase 2 will be completed in coming weeks. Mallon said he anticipates that, like Phase 1, Phase 2 will require only local SPLOST dollars, so that the project can go forward.

And as for the widening of Hwy. 54 from Fayetteville to Clayton County, Mallon said it is a Georgia Dept. of Transportation project in which the county would have only limited input.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Tue, 12/23/2008 - 8:00pm.

KUDOS, to the citizen for having the moxy to tell it like it is. Wake up people get involved in your community. go to city council meetings, keep an eye on all those rezoning request signs you see posted all over the county, ask questions if you do not understand what they mean. When the bulldozers arrive on the side of the road its too late because the deal is done. Knowledge is power, ignorance may be bliss, but im sure you will enjoy the smell of fresh asphalt on a quiet cool spring eve...enjoy and watch as all of south fulton and clayton county enjoy the rapid access that this throughfare will provide, all the while your property taxes continue to increase each year....nice...GOD BLESS...

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