The Oconee County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to get an update on Tuesday night on pending project agreements with the Georgia Department of Transportation for widening of Jimmy Daniell Road, for widening of Daniells Bridge Road, and for construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road.
At present, the BOC is not scheduled to take any action on those agreements.
County Clerk Jane Greathouse on Friday afternoon released an agenda for Tuesday listing the project “update” rather than Commission discussion and vote after BOC Chairman Melvin Davis sent the four voting commissioners an email message on Aug. 15 telling them that “several issues” regarding the agreements need “clarification.”
|Daniells Bridge Road|
Approaching Hog Mountain Road
County Public Works Director Emil Beshara criticized the agreements before a citizen committee on Aug. 12, saying that the county should not take action without more information.
Davis told the four voting commissioners that he had held a conference call with GDOT officials and Beshara on Aug. 15 and concluded that the BOC did not have the needed information on the projects to take action.
Davis Brought Contracts To Board
Davis provided the four voting Commissioners with project framework agreements for the Jimmy Daniell and Daniells Bridge Road projects just prior to the July 29 BOC agenda-setting meeting.
The documents spell out the funding sources for the projects and project time lines.
Included are the widening of Jimmy Daniell Road from SR 316 to the Atlanta Highway, the widening of Daniells Bridge Road from Mars Hill Road to Hog Mountain Road, and the construction of an extension of Daniells Bridge Road with a flyover of SR Loop 10.
All three projects are in the current Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS) list of projects.
The time lines and even funding figures in the agreements, however, are different from what are in the MACORTS documents, which are the official public documents on the three projects.
Beshara Out Of Loop
Beshara told the Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning on Aug. 12 that he represents the county on MACORTS and is the primary technical contact for the county with GDOT, but he had “no idea” GDOT was sending the agreements for county action.
In a July 10 letter Davis drafted to the four commissioners, Davis indicated he had been meeting with GDOT on the projects. That letter went out to the four voting commissioners with the proposed agreements just before the July 29 BOC meeting.
Several of the BOC members have indicated that they, too, had not been involved in or informed about the discussions with GDOT, and the commissioners did not take any action at either the July 29 or Aug. 5 meetings.
The plan had been for them to take action on Tuesday night.
Davis told the four commissioners in his email on Aug. 15 that Wayne Provost, director of Strategic and Long-Range Planning for the county, and County Administrative Officer Jeff Benko had joined him and Beshara that day in the conference call with “several GDOT officials.” The email was copied to a number of county officials and to incoming BOC member Bubber Wilkes.
“During the conversation, it was apparent that several issues needed clarification, including who (GDOT or Oconee) is responsible for various aspects of the projects,” Davis said.
“We determined that Wayne and Emil should meet with the appropriate GDOT officials to review design, ROW acquisition, timeline for completion, etc. so accurate data may be presented to the Board for consideration,” Davis wrote.
“We do not expect that information will be ready for discussion until the end of September or October,” Davis said in concluding the email message.
While there has been no public response from citizens along Jimmy Daniell Road, a number of citizens have spoken against both the three-laning of Daniells Bridge Road from its origins at the Oconee Connector to its terminus at Hog Mountain Road and the proposed Daniells Bridge Road Extension.
That extension would involve construction of a new road from the existing Daniells Bridge Road just east of the blind curve where the existing road abuts the on ramp from SR 316 to SR Loop 10 to the dead end of the Oconee Connector at Home Depot.
The new road would include a flyover of SR Loop 10. Current plans with MACORTS show exit and entrance ramps at the flyover from SR Loop 10.
Beshara told the Land Use Committee that building that flyover before making improvements to Daniells Bridge Road would be “exacerbating a problem” the county already has identified.
The BOC meeting on Tuesday night starts at 7 p.m. and will be held in the courthouse in Watkinsville. Beshara and Provost are listed as those who will give the update to the commissioners.