Hearn: curtail West Fayetteville Bypass
Plan would ditch new road path, intersection improvements
A procedural move to halt the third and final phase of the West Fayetteville Bypass failed again Thursday night.
Yet major changes could be coming to the project, as Commissioner Lee Hearn suggested the county stick to the existing road path from Redwine Road all the way up to Huiet Road and Ga. Highway 54.
Doing so would eliminate the previously-planned continuous road path, causing motorists to navigate several intersections before reaching the northern segment of the bypass on the other side of Ga. Highway 54. That would be far less convenient for motorists compared to a traditional bypass road path.
Hearn’s proposal would involve intersection improvements to handle the additional traffic, Hearn said, adding that it also might make the project far more “palatable” to residents in the area.
Such a plan would have significant cost savings, Hearn said, adding that the segment which would connect Harp Road to Redwine would remain undone.
The third phase of the bypass was initially planned to stretch from Ga. Highway 85 at Harp Road, connecting with Ebenezer Church Road at Redwine Road, then following Lester Road and Huiet Road up to Ga. Highway 54. From there, the first two phases of the bypass will take motorists up to Ga. Highway 92 at Westbridge Road close to the Fulton-Fayette County line.
Another question in play is whether the county can cancel the third phase of the bypass altogether and legally be allowed to fund the replacement of a bridge on Ebenezer Church Road that has fallen into disrepair. The bridge has long been considered a part of the third phase of the bypass.
County Attorney Scott Bennett said he would have to look into the matter, but he has been told that bridge was not listed on the 2003 county transportation plan as an individual project. If that is the case, the county couldn’t spend the transportation sales tax dollars on the badly-needed bridge replacement, Bennett said.
Hearn noted that if the sales tax funds weren’t available, the county could not afford to replace the bridge, which has scored poorly on recent tests.
Commissioner Allen McCarty has been arguing for the commission to cancel the third phase of the bypass and divert the money to the East Fayetteville Bypass. His motion to do so failed on a 2-2 tie, with Commission Chairman Herb Frady absent for the graduation of one of his grandsons.
McCarty and Commissioner Steve Brown were in favor of canceling the third phase of the west bypass, but Commissioners Hearn and Robert Horgan voted against it. The tie means that the matter will be put forward on a future agenda.
McCarty said the west bypass isn’t a real bypass because it doesn’t start and end at Ga. Highway 85. The East Fayetteville Bypass, which McCarty favors, has a similar problem because it would start at Ga. Highway 85 north but end well short of Hwy. 85 south, stopping in the middle of a rural area of Fayette County at the intersection of South Jeff Davis Drive, County Line Road and Inman Road.
McCarty noted that he won 31 of 36 precincts when he was elected, adding that halting the west bypass was one of his two main election promises.
Commissioner Steve Brown argued that the east bypass was the top-rated project prior to the sales tax being approved by voters. But Commissioner Robert Horgan noted that the county commission never voted to rank the east bypass as the top project.
The east bypass would stretch from Ga. Highway 85 North at Corinth Road to Ga. Highway 54 East, then going south to McDonough Road, also known as Truett Cathy Highway and continuing on County Line Road to the intersection of South Jeff Davis Drive and Inman Road, where the bypass would halt.
Hearn said he still believes in the East Fayetteville Bypass, but he thinks the decision on the west bypass should wait until after the regional transportation sales tax referendum on July 31. If the sales tax is approved, the east bypass will be fully funded, Hearn noted.