West F’ville Bypass Coalition challenges county to justify ‘development’ road

Tue, 02/10/2009 - 4:25pm
By: Letters to the ...

I am representative of the WFBC. The WFBC is an organization of citizens of Fayette County who are directly impacted and oppose the West Fayetteville Bypass (“WFB”) project. The WFB is a SPLOST project that barely passed under the guise of “road Improvements.”

On the county’s website, we found an organizational chart indicating that the Fayette commissioners report to the citizens of Fayette County. The county administrator reports directly to the commissioners. The road department, which is actually responsible for the construction and planning of the WFB, reports to the county administrator.

The purpose of this article is to introduce the WFBC, all members of whom are citizens of Fayette County. We are specifically asking our Fayette commissioners to publicly address the viability of the project by responding to the points we are making. If the county organizational chart is correct, and if the commissioners are truly dedicated to the well-being of all Fayette County citizens, they owe us and you readers the courtesy of a response.

In addressing individual angry landowners, there is a standard “bum’s rush” reply format used: e.g., “the commissioners recognize that some property owners will be adversely impacted, and we regret those individual situations. However, we are making every possible effort to minimize such impacts while still acting in the best interest of Fayette County and all Fayette citizens.”

That’s great rhetoric, but any reasonable person would agree that it’s nothing but politics.

But when it comes to justifying the project and fielding the fury of a hornets’ nest full of angry landowners, it’s the county road department that’s left with the distasteful task of justifying the county’s position.

The only case where the county commissioners themselves fielded questions regarding the current WFB plan was at the WFB Open House Meeting on Sept. 16, 2008.

Two of them mixed, mingled and meandered about the meeting talking and taking questions from individuals, but would not address the group. By making the meeting an “open house” and keeping the discussion “one on one,” the commissioners skillfully avoided adverse issues becoming more public.

They are applying the same philosophy to those whose land is involved by creating an atmosphere whereby it becomes neighbor against neighbor, each trying to reroute a project they can’t stop. So, the strategy is, divided they fall.

Phase I, the connecting WFB link, was created first to create support for Phases II and III. Phase I landowners were surprised with county surveyors appearing on their property without notification.

What we are asking the commissioners to do now is to address the issues publicly. In this time of economic crisis, we want to Know why Fayette County is in dire need of spending many millions of dollars needlessly. In a previous Citizen article (Jan. 27, 2009, by John Munford), we read that the commissioners were concerned that the state would hold back funding on the WFB due to insufficient congestion mitigation credits, and that Westbridge Road might be realigned. They also mentioned that the state doesn’t consider traffic from other counties.

To begin with, the state realizes that there is no congestion, and we’ve never seen or heard of any figures on traffic coming from other counties in that area.

Westbridge Road is a two-lane narrow road with stop signs and a hairpin curve. Is this the way to divert traffic to Fulton County?

We first tried to find the project justification, ourselves. What we were told was that the only county files relating to the project were located at the road department. What we found there were 2003 traffic figures on Ga. highways 85 and 54.

We did not find any information relating to traffic trends, destinations, patterns, or volume such as volume of vehicles traveling from Riverdale to Peachtree City, or percentage of Hwy. 54 traffic en-route to Westbridge Road.

The WFB Project is development-, not traffic-oriented.

What hurts us so badly is the thought of having our precious wetlands contaminated and watching our wildlife habitats become fast food restaurants.

And about zoning: who wants to be worried by arguments over adult book stores, row houses, convenience stores and massage parlors?

Mr. Dennis Chase, an environmental biologist, has had a great deal of experience with wetland issues while working with the federal government. He has participated in environmental hearings and drafted letters in which 404 wetland permits were denied.

He spoke before the commissioners last year over the difficulties that would be encountered by the county in not meeting federal requirements for the required Phase II 404 permits. The commissioners were unwilling to discuss the issues brought forth.

However, at least 10 other folks spoke against the bypass project. They were also ignored. The commissioners only allowed people to speak, but refused to acknowledge what was said.

Later in that meeting, they commented the remarks made abut the bypass project were “ignorant.”

The commissioners are taking the position that there is nothing left to discuss since “discussions ended years ago.”

Unfortunately, they will not acknowledge that they have changed the project layout so that it impacts many more people since then. Why not ask the University of Georgia to conduct a real traffic study?

The county should explain how they come up with the conclusion that people going east on Hwy. 54 are going to Westbridge Road and vice versa. We can’t find any congestion in the Fayetteville area except on hwys. 85 and 54 during rush hour. The traffic on the north end of Phase II is nothing.

True, we get more cars in the morning and evening rush hours, but it doesn’t back up. You can’t get to Atlanta using the WFB because there are no roads connecting it with interstate highways.

Ga. Highway 92 connecting I-85 would be a Fulton County project, and Fayette County has not coordinated the WFB with other counties, to our knowledge.

In fact, the city of Fairburn advised us that it did not know about the WFB project.

To the south, most Hwy. 92 traffic turns off at New Hope and Gingercake roads anyway. And you never have to miss a traffic light cycle at its intersection with Hwy. 85.

The county appears not to be interested in widening existing roads, but instead developing the rural areas we live in.

It is well known that some of the commissioners have been heavily involved in development over the years, but we are unaware that any of them bring any traffic study experience to the table.

The county is proposing to condemn enough property to allow for a four-lane road. At first, it might be a scenic drive through some open country. But, if anyone thinks you can have a bypass with no commercial development, please get back on the turnip truck.

I-285, Griffin, Barnesville, Lawrenceville, Riverdale — it’s there; just take a look.

Folks, it looks like the end of one of those last places for peaceful living within 25 miles of Atlanta is coming.

Atlanta is second to Los Angeles in traffic congestion. What our organization does not want is for us to be number one.

At a meeting on Dec. 9 at the Fayette Senior Center, we were advised that the future SPLOST efforts are to be coordinated with the Atlanta Regional Commission. What kind of job has the ARC done with Atlanta traffic?

One person we asked to join the WFBC said “that people had made investments and plans” based upon the WFB route, and accused us of stopping progress. If what we’re doing is stopping progress, does anyone want to join us?

Steve Smithfield

Fayetteville (north Fayette County), Ga.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 3:55pm.

The ATLANTA REGIONAL COMMISSION, is a socilaist group that withholds federal highway money, and transportation funding, under the guise of developeing a regional mass transit co-op. Fayette County has no bussiness dealing with the A.R.C and if we continue to do so, we can expect to have MARTA forced down our throats, in the near future under the guise of obtaining money or approval from the A.R.C for future road and or developement projects, Splost money is county raised and funded and does not have anything to do with the A.R.C, the commissioneers are telling a tall tale, and are following their own agenda at the expense of our quality of life that we have come to expect. But is being robbed of us as we speak.... Next election send em all packing, and vote no on splost everytime....PEACE

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 7:46am.

The ARC is not socialist, but rather fairly conservative. Part of the reason for the Atlanta traffic is their frequently looking askance at high-speed rail travel. They will not ram MARTA down our throat, unfortunately, since I would be overjoyed if it came a little closer to Fayette County. By the time you get to the College Park station, you might as well drive into the city. Do you really think that MARTA has money to expand at the moment?? Wake up and smell the coffee - they're being affected by the current economy also and have absolutely no extra money.

Also, a spellchecker is a wonderful, though sadly under-used, tool for today's modern blogger. It's SPLOST, not splost. Yes, spelling and punctuation do matter. Even in a blog, people tend to discount your opinion if the grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors run rampant.

Submitted by ats on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 9:57am.

I drive the roads in question frequently. There is not the amount of traffic necessary for a bypass to be considered. You may have to wait for the light to recycle twice in one or two areas during the heaviest time period. But that is no reason to spend the amount of projected money on this project. The main purpose of this project is to divide the property between Sandy Creek and Hwy 54 near Hueit Road. This is strictly for developers and the Fayette County School system that has purchased property for the projected newest of their high schools. That property is parrallel to Hwy 54 West behind the Old vacated Cat Clinic. Wake up people. Does Fayette County need to spend tax payers money this way. the roads they want to follow south of 54 is residential. Would you want a 4 lane highway in your front yard?

Submitted by lat1047 on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 5:14pm.

Are the Fayette County Commissioners so busy counting the tax revenues received from residents that they have lost all touch with current economic conditions in our country and county? HELLO? I don't know about you, but I'd like to know how the West Fayetteville or any bypass will BENEFIT the taxpayers in Fayette county. It appears, as reported on national news (FOX news), the county is financially unable to maintain the standards of education previously provided Fayette county students. According to the report, teachers may be asked to accept a cut in pay or layoffs will occur.

HELLO? How many homes were lost in Fayette county through foreclosure last year? How many jobs were lost in Fayette county last year? How many businesses were closed in Fayette county last year? What are we looking forward to this year? What are our county tax dollars going to be used for this year? And by the way, how many of our federal tax dollars will be used for the FAYETTEVILLE BYPASS?

HELLO? It's always easier to spend someone else's money! Well folks of Fayette county, this is your money that the County Commissioners is spending!

I don't know about you, but my parents always tried to teach me the difference in what you may WANT and what your may NEED. We were not a family of privilege or excess, but a family who knew the difference in WANT and NEED.

As a citizen of Fayette county, do you WANT the Fayetteville Bypass? As a citizen of Fayette county, do you NEED the Fayetteville Bypass? If you do, why? What are your priorities for your tax dollars?

Maybe the County Commissioners can stop counting your tax revenues long enough to answer some of these questions. I realize it is difficult for folks who are not accustomed to getting up early and smelling the coffee, but please give us all a break and figure out why you were elected and by whom.

If the Commissioners need any help, maybe they could ask their neighbor who just lost his job, his house, or his business.

Submitted by mysteryman on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 8:28pm.

With the advent of the WEST FAYETTE ROBBERY HIGHWAY, and all of the foreclosures, and daily robbery team sprees, as well as gun play at our local parks, on top of everything else, how could my property taxes continue to increase each year, while our quality of life is degraded by the current state of the nation....ANYONE????? BLESS. P.S to the family of renters down the street, please tell your kids to stop throwin trash in my yard while they wait for the school bus, while im sure this was the norm at your former Clayton County apartment complex.... I will go GRAN TORINO on them the next time i find a Mcdonalds bag in my yard... Oh yeah i almost forgot tell your son he dropped his box of condoms this morning, tell him i put them on top of yalls mailbox this evening....PEACE

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