The first meeting of the year for the Fayette County Commission last week included the topic of the East Fayetteville Bypass, whether the roadway will be built and what route it would take. A decision will likely be reached by late February.
County Public Works director Phil Mallon and project engineer David Yeager at the meeting told commissioners that a decision needs to be reached due to the current posture of the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission, both of which have placed a strong emphasis on communities either meeting construction schedules or losing funding due to uncertainties in funding.
Mallon told the board that a decision needs to be reached in late February to be in compliance with the funding parameters.
Mallon said the purpose of the presentation was to familiarize commissioners with project issues such as potential alignment options and estimated costs and to determine what additional information the board might need prior to reaching a decision on the project by late February.
Mallon said currently all major north/south routes in east Fayette travel through Fayetteville. Those routes include Ga. highways 85, 92, 314 and 279.
Mallon said the purpose of the proposed bypass is to provide an optional route for that northbound and southbound traffic. If eventually constructed, Mallon said it would reduce traffic congestion along the Hwy. 85 corridor, improve the level of service at major intersections, reduce traffic accidents and improve safety.
The eventual decision, if the project progresses, will be to agree on the route (alignment) and the number of lanes.
The current proposal includes three design options. Two would feature either a two-lane road or a four-lane road, with both requiring some new construction. The third option would essentially maintain existing roads to connect to Hwy. 54.
Right-of-way acquisitions for a four-lane design, Option 1, would cost approximately $2.5 million compared to $2 million for a two-lane design, Option 2, and $1 million for Option 3 that would use the existing alignment.
The overall preliminary cost of installing a four-lane roadway is estimated at $66 million, with the cost of a two-lane road estimated at $52 million and $35 million if the existing alignment with no bridge over Morning Creek is used.
Mallon in the presentation noted that upcoming meetings could be used to explore other alignment options, though a final decision should be made by late February if the board wanted to proceed with the bypass project.
Commissioner Steve Brown during the discussion said he would like to know the long-term impact on the roads included in Option 3 due to the future potential for an increase in the number of homes that might be built in the area.
Commissioner Lee Hearn said the primary question is how the county would pay for the project even if the board decides on a two-lane roadway.
“There’s never been a better time to purchase right-of-way than now,” Brown said, adding that the East Fayetteville Bypass has been and continues to be the county’s top roadway priority.
Near the end of the presentation Hearn said he did not care much for Option 3, suggesting that commissioners focus on the other two options. Commissioner Robert Horgan agreed.
Mallon at the end of the presentation said he would furnish the board with additional information at future meetings.