US 441 BYPASS AROUND BISHOP, GEORGIA

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GDOT's solution of two roundabouts on Georgia/US 441 for the Town of Bishop is not in the best interest of the Town, it's citizens, or it's businesses. The DOT must think of the future – five years from today, ten years and beyond. As the Savannah port expands (and as the number of consumers increase), commercial truck traffic numbers will surge. It seems common sense that, if you have 15 commercial vehicles travelling 60 mph on Highway 441, and then they have to stop/slow for the roundabouts, then there will be twenty or more behind them. These will create a major traffic jam, and the residents, UGA sports fans, vacationers, truckers, farmers, etc. will hate them. How will residents ever get a break to leave our driveway?


1)  The Town of Bishop has been promised a bypass by the DOT for over twenty years and we were counting on it. However, if there absolutely cannot be a bypass….then please just give two signal lights – one at the busy Highway 186 and one at Astondale Road. If these are red at the same time, at least homeowners will have a little bit of a break to enter or cross the road. But again, this will be a temporary measure by DOT. Here are a few points I would like to bring up:
If you look at qpublic, you will see that the Oconee County Board of Education has purchased over 42 acres for a future school right there on 441 at Bishop, at a value of around $600,000.


2)  We have a subdivision on 441 in Bishop (Townside) and several families there, on sideroads, and even on 441 have school-age children. We have busy school bus traffic for the town, on the sideroads (including Ga. Highway 186 to North High Shoals), and then through Bishop to and beyond Farmington. School busses have a hard enough time getting out into 441. This will only add to the traffic and safety concerns for the youth and bus drivers.

3)  There are bike groups going through Bishop, and walkers, all the time. Three bike rides are scheduled for this summer. Expanding the road to three lanes would be extremely dangerous and unnecessary.

4)  The UGA Equestrian Center is located on Astondale Road in Bishop, and several events are planned there. We love the UGA Equestrian Center, but it does bring increased spectator and participant (horse trailer) traffic.

5)  The UGA ballgame days are already nightmares for the town and 441. Please visit our town during the UGA football game traffic before making any decisions.

6)  Besides all of this, it would be interesting to know how many out-of-state family vehicles and motorhomes/campers pass through all year, for UGA events and during summer vacations. There actually is a small campground here, and it is full almost all the time. These family vehicles have tags from areas across the country.

How in the world can DOT justify the money spent on Mars Hill Road (which is practically all residential traffic and not even that busy on the weekends or during work hours), and then say that US/Ga. 441 doesn’t need anything except roundabouts to slow traffic? Highway 441 is a major US highway connecting the north with the south, and a major commercial truck route. Not only that, but it was the secondary route when Atlanta was hit with the snow storm, and we have recently even seen an increase in truck traffic, possibly because of the bridge collapse. I imagine trucks are getting on 441 at Commerce and maybe getting on 20 at Madison. If you check with some of the trucker associations or trucking companies, I’m sure you’ll find this two-roundabout plan objectionable to them as well.

Not only do we have commercial truck/trailer traffic, and transporters of automobiles and large tractors (including Caterpillar of Athens), but we are also concerned about the trucks hauling flammable liquids (including gasoline) through Bishop on 441.

I understand the historical and environmental statements about a bypass…but how does that hold water, considering all of the road work done in the north Georgia mountains, the very heart of the Cherokee? And, speaking of historical concerns, I guess you know that the Town of Bishop has been included in the National Register of Historic Places for many years. The town has a very rich history, and we have the history books to prove it. Let me know if you’d like to order one. The port at Savannah will continue to expand and be a chief destination for trucks receiving and shipping goods. What will this be like for Highway 441 in a few years?

It was hoped by some that a bypass could somehow later include Highway 15, and tie into 441, keeping the major truck traffic out of downtown Watkinsville.
We have businesses and a community center in Bishop. This will negatively affect these centers, as nobody will want to get out of line and then try to get back into 441.  There are all types of transporters, huge motorhomes and campers, boats, cattle trailers, etc. using 441 travelling north/south, but also entering from Highway 186. Many are older vehicles (especially the old and ill-maintained log trucks), and the roundabouts will be almost impossible for them…unless this is a HUGE round-about, taking valuable land, and costing more money.

Surely you are aware of where our Post Office is located. Please take the time to visit it and you will find that it extremely dangerous now for patrons and for the mail delivery personnel. In addition, many residents still use a mailbox.

Not only will it slow/stop the traffic, but this will also negatively affect response time for emergency vehicles using 441, and there are quite a few. We hear sirens often from Oconee and Athens-Clarke County, as well as medical transporters from Madison and other areas getting their injured to the major hospitals in Athens.

I have talked to the U.S. Department of Transportation office in Atlanta, and they say that they are not familiar with one single other instance where two roundabouts are used on major truck routes.

Again, if a bypass is not possible, just give us two synchronized signals – one at Highway 186 and one at Astondale. If these are red at the same time, this will give a break to residents and for Price Mill and Old Bishop Roads. Also, in closing, I have two communications I would like to share. Here is one quote from a Georgia resident:
Don't believe anything the GDOT tells you. The median on 72 Hwy. gets cut one time a year. We have to drive down 72 and back up just to get to our driveway. We sit waiting because of traffic. Have seen the median cause wrecks and cars flip because of it. We hate the 4 lanes.”
And, here is a quote from a friend now living in another country, but keeping up with us through facebook:
“When that DOT employee says ‘roundabouts are safer than signalized intersections,’ she should try collecting accident data from countries that have lots of roundabouts. The city I live in is full of them, and they are dangerous things!! It may be difficult to find sufficient scientific data for this, as there are far less roundabouts than intersections. Roundabouts do not restrict/slow the flow of traffic. If you are trying to decrease speed and/or traffic numbers through the Town of Bishop, roundabouts are NOT the answer. And truck and trailer drivers hate them. It is very difficult for a truck and trailer to stay completely in the lane when going through a roundabout. They can’t help but drift. In addition, if people are trying to get out of their driveways or businesses in Bishop, and have to wait for a long time for a break in traffic, roundabouts are not going to provide for this break. Lights will help. I hope you get your bypass.”
Carolyn Pritchett
706-207-5006



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