Brown, McCarty oppose bypass by voting against asphalt contracts

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To record a vote against the West Fayetteville Bypass, new Fayette County Commissioners Steve Brown and Allen McCarty voted against the “consent agenda” of housekeeping matters at last week’s regular commission meeting.

The agenda, which generally consists of non-controversial “housekeeping” items, last week included the awarding of annual bids for asphalt acquisition and milling services for various paving and resurfacing projects. Brown inquired if any of that money would be going towards the West Fayetteville Bypass.

County Manager Jack Krakeel confirmed that the bids reflected work necessary for all county road projects including projects from the 2003 transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the largest of which is the bypass.

Brown noted that he favors building an East Fayetteville Bypass instead, and added that part of the funding for it is instead going toward the West Fayetteville Bypass. Brown also said the East Fayetteville Bypass was considered “the number-one priority” of a previous county commission.

Brown and McCarty’s vote against the awarding of the asphalt acquisition along with milling and sealant services failed, as the consent agenda containing the bid awards passed 3-2, with Commissioners Robert Horgan and Lee Hearn voting in favor along with Chairman Herb Frady.

The asphalt products bid was awarded to E.R. Snell Contracting, Inc. and C.W. Matthews Inc. for up to $2.6 million. The asphalt milling bid was awarded to Atlanta Paving and Concrete Construction for up to $75,000. The asphalt sealant bid was awarded to Seaco, Inc. for up to $45,000.

The West Fayetteville Bypass — now officially renamed Veterans Parkway — will extend from Ga. Highway 85 South at Harp Road up to Ga. Highway 92 North at Westbridge Road. The county is also replacing a bridge on Westbridge Road and realigning a section of the road to straighten it out.

The bypass project has drawn intense criticism during the past year, particularly from a group of residents who formed to protest the project and attempt to stop it. The West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition has argued that the use of existing roads would be far better than creating a new road that will displace some residents and leave others close to the path of a new road which they never expected to occur.

Both Brown and McCarty ran last summer in the Republican Primary as avowed opponents of the bypass, ousting incumbents Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell, who were ardent bypass supporters.

In a 2009 discussion about the East Fayetteville bypass, county staff noted that the projected cost of $46.4 million was questioned by state transportation officials as to whether it was enough.

The West Fayetteville Bypass, however, had an estimated cost of $28 million, and ultimately the county decided to delay the East Bypass to make sure there were enough funds to complete the West Bypass.

The East Fayetteville Bypass was projected to start at Ga. Highway 85 South, stretching to Jeff Davis Drive and then Ga. Highway 54, dumping traffic on Ga. Highway 85 north of the Fayette Pavilion.

The county is evaluating other possibilities for the bypass, including the use of existing roads in lieu of a new road section in an effort to shrink the cost.