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Bypass, part 2, to start shortly

The Fayette County Board of Commissioners last week voted to proceed with right-of-way acquisition for land needed for the second phase of the controversial West Fayetteville Bypass.

This section of the road will reach from the first phase terminus at Sandy Creek Road behind Piedmont Fayette Hospital all the way up to Ga. Highway 92 at West Bridge Road.

The bypass — particularly this northern section — figured prominently in the July 20 elections results that saw two incumbents ousted by opponents of the road. Commission Chairman Jack Smith — one of those to be replaced Jan. 1 — said he has been told that the county has received a verbal notification that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would approve a permit for the road, which will require the crossing of several streams including Whitewater Creek.

A citizen’s group opposing the bypass was petitioning the Corps for a denial of the permit as a way to stop the road. That group, the West Fayette Bypass Coalition, has also threatened to file a federal lawsuit against the county under the federal Clean Water Act in hopes of scuttling the project.

Smith said county staff has indicated about 42 parcels will need to be acquired for the road, and most of the major landowners “have pretty much agreed” to donate the necessary property for the project. Some other parcels will need to be purchased by the county, but so far no property owners have indicated they will refuse to sell their property, necessitating a potential condemnation action by the county.

That could change, Smith noted.

The path of the bypass is expected to result in the need to demolish three existing homes and a barn. The bypass is being conceptualized and built in three stages. Once complete it will extend from Ga. Highway 85 South at Harp Road to the first part of phase one, which starts at Lester Road just south of Ga. Highway 54. The second phase of the bypass will extend from that point to Ga. Highway 92 North at West Bridge Road, and the county will also be straightening out a curve and replacing a bridge on West Bridge Road which can be used as one of the avenues into Fulton County and ultimately Interstate 85 via Ga. Highway 138.

Bypass opponents have complained that the route is not direct enough to be convenient for motorists, particularly those who commute to and from downtown Atlanta and beyond. Some also have alleged that the bypass would benefit owners of undeveloped land in central Fayette that is zoned for future residential subdivisions.

Smith said based on the zoning of the undeveloped tracts, they cannot be developed for a more intense zoning due to the location of the bypass.

“The main thing the bypass will do for those properties is provide an alternate ingress and egress for emergency services to be able to reach those parcels faster,” Smith said.

Plus, due to the economy, development in that area is likely to be slow in coming, Smith added.

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