Saturday, November 22, 2014

Oconee Commissioners To Consider Agreements For Widening Jimmy Daniell Road And Daniells Bridge Road And For Daniells Bridge Road Extension

Dec. 1 Deadline Set

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is being asked to take up on Tuesday night project framework agreements with the state for widening of Daniells Bridge Road and of Jimmy Daniell Road and construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10.

The agenda item is a response to a letter sent to BOC Chairman Melvin Davis on Oct. 28 asking for county action on a project framework agreement for the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road by Dec. 1, according to documents released Friday on the county web site.

The county has received project framework agreements for the two Daniells Bridge Road projects as well, but the Oct. 28 letter on the county site from Albert Shelby, program delivery engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation, references only the Jimmy Daniell Road project.

BOC Chairman Melvin Davis has been pushing for action on all three project framework agreements since the state sent them to the county in early July, and the agenda item on Tuesday calls for BOC consideration of all three of them.

The meeting is to begin at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Watkinsville.

Land Use Committee

Davis asked the BOC in July to approve the three agreements that set out times lines and funding terms and to send the agreements back to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The four voting BOC members objected, saying that the agreements had come to them unexpectedly and did not reflect discussed time lines or roadway priorities.

Rather than take action, the BOC asked the county’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Land Use and Transportation Planning to review the three projects in the larger context of county transportation needs.

Davis short-circuited that discussion by asking Land Use Committee Chairman Abe Abouhamdan before its meeting last week to focus entirely on the three project framework agreements. Abouhamdan had previously told the Land Use Committee to ignore those agreements.

Sign For Ross Property

At its meeting last week, the Land Use Committee voted 8-1 to recommend to the BOC that it approve the three agreements.

Project Agreements

On July 3 and July 9 the Georgia Department of Transportation sent the county the project framework agreements for the three projects.

In the GDOT agreement, the widening of Jimmy Daniells Road is a $21.7 million project, with construction funds to be authorized in October of 2018.

The GDOT project framework agreement estimates costs of the Daniells Bridge Road widening at $3.7 million, with construction funds to be authorized in January of 2018.

The GDOT agreement lists the Daniells Bridge Road Extension as a $4.9 million project with construction funds to be authorized in August of 2018.

The documents list concept approval dates of May of next year for the two Daniells Bridge Road projects and June of next year for the Jimmy Daniell Road widening.

Access For Development

County Strategic and Long Range Planning Director Wayne Provost told the Land Use Committee in October that the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover was designed many years ago to provide relief to traffic at the SR 316 and SR Loop 10 interchange.

The extension and flyover would link the existing Daniells Bridge Road to the stub of the Oconee Connector that now runs in front of Home Depot.

Provost said the project also was intended to provide “access to properties that might not otherwise have access” as a way of spurring economic development.

Nurseryman Bill Ross owns 62 acres on Dowdy Road that also has frontage on SR Loop 10 where the Daniells Bridge Road extension would cross SR Loop 10.

Ross has spoken to the Land Use Committee and the BOC in favor of construction of the Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover.

Boswell Listing

The Ross property is listed for sale by Boswell Properties, a commercial real estate firm owned by Jamie Boswell, the local citizen representative on the state Transportation Board.

Boswell was copied on the Oct. 28 letter sent to Davis by Shelby of GDOT.

Boswell had not been copied on the letters sent to the county by GDOT with the project framework agreements in July.

The Boswell web site listed the Ross property as under contract last summer, but the web site no longer lists the property that way.

Presbyterian Homes

Ross sent a letter to Presbyterian Homes of Georgia last summer proposing the Dowdy Road property for a retirement center after PHG pulled out of its proposed project on Rocky Branch Road.

On Nov. 14 of this year, Frank H. McElroy Jr., president of Presbyterian Homes, sent out a memo indicating that the company is considering two sites for a local facility.

According to the memo, one is in Oconee County and the other is in Athens-Clarke County.

The memo said PHG was working with Williams and Associates, a land use and engineering firm with offices on Daniells Bridge Road, on the possible sites and expects to make a decision by February of 2015.

On Sunday of last week, the Boswell sign for the Ross property was not visible to anyone driving on the Oconee Connector. It had been torn down and lay in grass on the side of the road.

Beshara Recommendation

Emil Beshara, Oconee County public works director, told the Land Use Committee last week that he did not recommend that the BOC approve all three of the project framework agreements.

He said the BOC should approve only those agreements where funding from the state was forthcoming in the current or next fiscal year.

Construction is listed as Long Range for all three of the projects covered by the project framework agreements in the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) most recent transportation documents.

Initial funding would come for design work, Beshara said, but said he he wasn’t certain where that funding stood in the state timetable.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oconee County Land Use Committee Tells Commissioners To Sign Project Framework Agreements with GDOT

Action At Request Of Davis

The Oconee County Land Use And Transportation Planning Committee tonight recommended to the Board of Commissioners that it sign project framework agreements for widening of Jimmy Daniell Road and Daniells Bridge Road and construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10.

Bob Sanders, Land Use Committee member, said he was fearful the state would withdraw its contributions to the three projects if the Commissioners didn’t take action on the agreements the county received from the Georgia Department of Transportation in July.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Oconee County Land Use Committee To Continue Its Discussion Of Daniells Bridge Road Flyover And Other Road Projects

Economic Development Cited

The Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning resumes its deliberations about county road priorities tomorrow night with the goal of giving its feedback to the Board of Commissioners in February or March.

The proposed Daniells Bridge Road extension and flyover of SR Loop 10 has dominated both of the meetings the group has held since it began its discussion of road priorities at its meeting on Sept. 9.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Volunteers Clean Up Antioch Church Road In Southern Oconee County To Protect Rose Creek

Braved Cold

Fifty volunteers, mostly teenagers, braved the cold yesterday morning to pick up litter on Antioch Church Road as a way to protect Rose Creek, which flows through the southern part of Oconee County before reaching the Oconee River at the Greene County line.

The litter, if not collected, would end up in Rose Creek, the organizers of the event told the volunteers.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Construction Of Mars Hill Road Scheduled To Begin Next Week, Georgia Department Of Transportation Announced

Clearing To Begin Wednesday

Construction work on Mars Hill Road is scheduled to begin next week, according to a press release issued this afternoon by the Gainesville office of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Crews are to start delivering equipment and materials to the site at the beginning of the week, and clearing along Mars Hill Road in advance of construction will start Wednesday at State Route 316, weather permitting.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oconee County Officials Met With State Transportation Board Member And His Client To Discuss Modifications In Design For Mars Hill Road

Maxie Price Properties

Oconee County officials–at the request of Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis–met last week with commercial real estate broker Jamie Boswell and one of his clients to discuss a possible change in the plans for the widening of Mars Hill Road.

Boswell and his client, Maxie Price, wanted to discuss a cut in the median to provide access to property Price owns once the roadway is widened.

Boswell, in addition to being a commercial realtor, is the local representative to the state Transportation Board, which oversees the administration of construction contracts, including the one let in July for the widening of Mars Hill Road from SR 316 to Butler’s Crossing.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Repair Work On Orkin Drive Costing Nearly $220,000, With Oconee County Paying Half

Problem Found Before Construction

Oconee County is paying nearly $110,000 as the county’s share of the cost of repairing Orkin Drive, the main entranceway to the Caterpillar plant on the east side of Bogart.

The roadway failed shortly after the two counties accepted responsibility for it in August and September of 2013, and it was partially closed and rebuilt at the end of last year. Total cost of repair was just less than $220,000, with Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County splitting the expenses.