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Commissioners blast bypass critics

After enduring another round of criticism for proceeding with the West Fayetteville Bypass project, several members of the Fayette County Commission could hold their tongues no longer at the end of their meeting Thursday night.

Commission Chairman Jack Smith chastised “the political machine” that circulated untruths that the commission could abandon the bypass and also that Smith in particular was working to bring mass transit, specifically in the form of MARTA, to Fayette County.

“Yet people such as you continue to show up at this meeting and believe that a vote to replace two of us is a vote on that particular road,” Smith said, addressing one of the critics, Bob Ross of Peachtree City. “That road may well have been what the misinformed public used to defeat two members of this board, but that does not change the fact that that road was voted on by the citizens of this community and we as a board are bound by our oath of office to uphold what the citizens of this county vote.

“... And when you stand before us, and accuse us, of insubordination, malfeasance of office or whatever other terminology you wish to use — doesn’t make it true.”

Smith is one of the two commissioners who were voted out of office in the July primary, as he was defeated by former Peachtree City mayor Steve Brown; the other is Commissioner Eric Maxwell, who lost to political newcomer Allen McCarty. Brown and McCarty, who take over on Jan. 1, have pledged to stop the bypass, but they will likely be outvoted by the other three commissioners who recently joined a unanimous vote to begin land acquisition for the second phase of the bypass: Lee Hearn, Robert Horgan and Herb Frady.

Smith also addressed a criticism by Gordon Furr of Tyrone that he was in favor of MARTA coming to Fayette County in the future.

“There is not now, nor has there ever been an intention by any member of this board, me included, to put MARTA in Fayette County,” Smith said, further adding that no one has ever lobbied for any form of mass transit to come here.

“It is simply another myth and untruth that is being perpetuated and it was developed to defeat two people in office and they were defeated. Yet somewhere in the political machine that fact — that it has never been true — has been missed.”

Smith also noted that the bypass, while on the referendum for the 2003 transportation sales tax as an eligible project for funding, was on that list when he wasn’t even in office.

Commission member Herb Frady noted that the commission a number of years ago was the only county in metro Atlanta to turn down the express bus system that was implemented by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

“There has never been any intention of bringing rapid transit into this county, never, and I can’t imagine where they get that from,” Frady said.

Commissioner Lee Hearn noted that a recent traffic study predicted that at the intersection of the bypass and Lees Mill Road there would be 8,000 cars a day traveling through.

“We have an opportunity to do a real good thing with this project and I think we’re doing the right thing for the right reason,” Hearn said.

Hearn also drew a parallel to the late 1980s when the county had to buy 780 acres from south Fayette residents, taking homes and barns, to build the Lake Horton reservoir, which was desperately needed both then and for the future.

The move drew criticism for the commission at the time, Hearn said.

“Those folks were ill about that project, but the board had actual forethought and vision to be able to say we’re doing what’s best for the whole county and we’re going to buy this land and treat people as fairly as we can,” Hearn said.

The bypass has drawn harsh criticism and at several property owners have indicated they won’t cooperate with the land acquisition phase of the second portion of the bypass, instead forcing the county into court to condemn the property.

Meanwhile, a coalition of citizens against the bypass has threatened to file a lawsuit to delay and/or stop the bypass from being built.

The bypass, once all three phases are complete, will stretch from Ga. Highway 85 south at Harp Road up to Ga. Highway 54 at the former Huiet Road and then northward to its terminus at Ga. Highway 92 and West Bridge Road.

That will put motorists a short distance from Ga. Highway 138 in south Fulton County which leads directly to Interstate 85, and the current commissioners contend that will bring necessary traffic relief to downtown Fayetteville.

Critics have contended the road is to benefit new as-yet-unbuilt development in the central section of the county being served by the second phase of the bypass. But a study conducted by The Citizen determined that among all the undeveloped land along the phase 2 bypass route could be developed at its current zoning with or without the bypass.

Coalition member Dennis Chase, a retired biologist, has said the projected eight stream crossings needed for the bypass would ultimately have a negative impact on water quality.



As mentioned before, the biggest problem I see on this upcoming reengineering, is dumping Hwy 92 North traffic into Hood ave with a "round-about" to meter traffic.
Can you imagine the large dump trucks, 18 wheelers, etc that utilize 92 merged into the Hood Ave school bus traffic, parents dropping off and picking up kids, etc. during morning and afternoon high traffic periods when the start navigating the traffic circle?

This is going to be a nightmare beyond anyones imagination....

I urge you to save this warning for future reference when it happens... and it WILL happen.

This is NOT sound highway traffic engineering.

1and1isnt3's picture

what exactly does it have to do with the WFB and this article????

unless you are a politician.

So, I just read that the commission is going to change the West Fayetteville Bypass name to Veterans Parkway. Is this supposed to make it more palatable? Is it supposed to make people think before condeming a Veterans Parkway? Don't think so---it still stinks.

Mr. Munford, I'm not trying to digress, but I suggest that you ask Commissioner Smith where he got his "oral confirmation" that a permit for the West Bypass would be forthcoming. Your September 14 article was sent to the COE, and they replied that they never give oral approval for permits prior to final signage by an authorized individual. You really ought to check that one out.

Mr. Hearn's comment that the West Bypass would handle 8,000 cars a day won't wash either. Look at projections made 10-15 years ago, and then the whole economy tanked. First, they would need a place to go, other than out in the country. Going to I-85 via Westbridge/Ga. 138 is like going to Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale by taking Highway 314 from Fayetteville.You also get a huge bottleneck backup at Hwy. 138 with two stop signs 200 yards apart and then having to cross your fingers before you turn left. The Bypass is also a two lane road with stop signs and traffic lights, and totally dependent upon other roads being widened and improved to be fully functional even in theory. That "perimeter" or "feeder system" as they call it to the Bypass all went down with the 2009 SPLOST defeat.

The commissioners have no obligation to complete the West Bypass if they choose another project. The citizens voted for the entire transportation plan in 2003 that included many, many other projects. They didn't even consider finishing the East Bypass, as Commissioner Smith was blindsided when asked why Option D, a cheaper alternative to building it, wasn't used.The commissioner said that he was unfamiliar with Option D.

When commissioners promise to carry out the will of the people and the people make it crystal clear what they don't want the project that the commissioners chose for them, it seems that the commissioners should make another choice. Especially as long as this rhubarb has been going on. How much clearer can we make it? They need to quit blaming the voters for what they, themselves gave priority, and get with the will of the majority of voters.

The problem is that we dont have enough people attending the commissioners meetings and really letting them hear our comments. We need to pack the room.

We also need to demand a technical, detailed traffic study with number of people, destinations, etc., for the West Bypass. They never give us answers other than overly optimistic projections by expensive consultants. Nothing but hot air, and plenty of it.

All who think critics of the bypass pulled the wool over the voters' eyes in the last election are giving us too much credit.

Newsboy's picture

The bypass was included in the 2003 transportation plan approved by the voters of Fayette County in referendum and they are obligated to build it. I remember the plan very distinctly -- it spelled out all the projects that were to be built, including this one. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've still got the original information flyer that was given out explaining just exactly what was contained in the plan. This newspaper published numerous stories by John Thompson about the plan, including a color map showing the projects in detail. I'm sure those stories are available on the Citizen archive.

I don't understand what's so difficult for people to understand. You can oppose the bypass, but don't blame the commissioners -- blame your neighbors, and yourselves, for not paying attention in 2003 and approving the 1-cent tax to fund the thing.

ginga1414's picture

Newsboy, I MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT vote in favor of the 2004 SPLOST! Contrary to what you and Mr. Smith think, this person is not "uninformed," and I resent the implication that I am.

While it's true that the people voted for SPLOST in 2003, there were plenty of other SPLOST projects the commissioners could have switched to or selected than the West Bypass. They don't speak about being obligated to do all those other projects which are just as eligible as the WFB. As long as it's a 2003 SPLOST project, they can approve it. The 2003 commissioners were diabolically clever. They pulled a fast on on us by having so many projects made eligible. When it came time to activating them, politics kicked in. It's like taking a piece of pie. You can have any piece you want, but you take the big one. Why don't you take a look at the 2003 list of eligible projects and then start talking about the commissioners' sworn duty to build the remainder of them? Do you suppose there may be another reason the five of them have sworn allegiance to the Bypass?

It was simply a vehicle politicians can use to keep the real decisions out of the voters' hands.But the voters were no dummies. They voted the 2009 SPLOST down 3 to 1.Surely you don't believe the majority of voters this year wanted the Bypass.

Why would you want all those cars from South Fayette and West Fayette, heading North, to go through Fayetteville at the squeezed square at the old court house? Can't hardly turn left onto 85 now---no room!

By the way when will that old courthouse and all that other useless old timey buildings be torn down and parking garages and real downtown stores be built? Maybe even a youth center?

grassroots's picture

I have the original map prior to the SPLOST vote that was supplied to me from a close anonymous source and prior commissioner. It is not comparable to the route that to this day is still not finalized according to public works. Google the abuse of eminent domain and see what this project is really about. Future taxes.

Mass transit is coming, stop fighting, let it be. Herb go home and enjoy retirement.

ginga1414's picture

If what Chairman Smith says is true about being obligated to build the West Bypass, they are also obligated to build the East Bypass. However, Commissioner Maxwell said that he "wasn't willing to put one more cent into the East Bypass." With that, the Commissioners diverted the SPLOST money for the East Bypass to the West Bypass.

Let's get it straight, Newsboy. Print the facts.

Mass transit is coming, stop fighting, let it be. Herb go home and enjoy retirement.

ginga1414's picture

that a recent traffic study predicted that at the intersection of the bypass and Lees Mill Road there would be 8,000 cars a day traveling through."

I would like to know when and where this traffic study was done because I live on and travel Lee's Mill Rd. every single day and I wasn't part of that "traffic study." Wouldn't one think that the very people who live on Lee's Mill Rd. would have certainly been included in that "traffic study?" I would think folks living on Lee's Mill Rd. should have been afforded the opportunity to voice their opinions in a traffic study that would involve their very lives. I wasn't asked how many times a day I travel up and down Lee's Mill Rd. I would very much like to see Mr. Hearn's "traffic study."

If all of that is true, is it the wise and safe thing to do to route 8,000 cars a day through a neighborhood where school buses and teenage drivers travel going to and from school each day? Lee's Mill Rd. is a residential section of Fayette County with homes and children. The Fayette County Commission and Public Works Dept. are going to route a thoroughfare through the Lee's Mill Rd. and Janice Dr. neighborhoods. Janice Dr. is a cul-de-sac neighborhood. Commissioner Hearn says this is "a real good thing" and "we're doing the right thing for the right reason?"

So Commissioner Jack throws a tantrum...didn't get his way, got voted out of office, and had to have the final word. He could have correctly informed the citizenry before the election, but he took the "father knows best" stance and stoically fulfilled his so-called duty. Thanks for nothing, and goodbye.

tortugaocho's picture

All along Jack has thought he was smarter than everyone. He voted for a MARTA plan that kept the idea of mass transit in Fayette alive, rather than vote no and he pouts when he gets called on it.

His "WFB is a done deal" is getting very old. It is emblematic of his arrogant Chamber view that "we run the show here".

The sad thing is Jack never figured out that people didn't vote for him--- they simply voted against Linda Wells because Randall told them to.

Good riddance Jack.

ginga1414's picture

I sat and laughed over your descriptions of Chairman Smith's stance with the WFB. I really needed a good laugh. It has been a long time since anyone on the receiving end of our commissioners has been able to laugh.

ginga1414's picture


ginga1414's picture

As long as folks are going to start unleashing their tongues and say what they think......

Wouldn't one think that it would be the respectful, courteous, humane, thoughtful thing to do to pick up the phone and call someone whose life is going to be greatly impacted by your actions. If you were going to bulldoze through the front yard of someone to build a road, wouldn't you do them the common courtesy of picking up the phone and talking to them about it? I would.

Did I receive that kind of treatment? Did my neighbors receive that kind of treatment by our Commissioners? ABSOLUTELY NOT?

We received official letters notifying us of the fact.

We were told by County officials, "It's a done deal!"

When I was afforded the opportunity to speak to some of our commissioners (Not Commission Chairman Smith), the treatment I received was anything but respectful, courteous, humane or thoughtful. I showed Commissioners Maxwell and Frady that the West Bypass would cut through my front yard and would separate my home from my well. My question was, "What will happen in a case like that?" The reply I received was from Mr. Maxwell and he said, "Well, Lady, I guess you'll just have to be real careful crossing that road with your water bucket." Mr. Frady was standing right next to Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Frady said nothing.

Mr. Munford, don't talk to me about the Commissioners not being able to hold their tongues any longer!

grassroots's picture

"Commissioner Lee Hearn noted that a recent traffic study predicted..." note the qualifying wording is "recent" is because there NEVER WAS A TRAFFIC STUDY!!
And how did he predict 8,000 cars? Julia's Psychic Reading 1233 Highway 54 W, Fayetteville GA 30214 ...that's how. That and a rubber hose they ran across the road a few months ago.
And how about Jack Smith's half page ad in the Fayette Daily thanking the citizens of Fayette County for allowing him to serve and bowed out it appeared. Then slammed us with an Executive Order and chewed people out last Thursday. That's funny, we couldn't get a word out of him edge wise for a year after hundreds of people went to the podium and protested the road to nowhere. By the way Mr Smith, the attorney commissioner sitting to the right of you claims that the SPLOST money can be allocated to other projects. This road will never be built.

I'm in a development related business, but I think Jack Smith has done more to tarnish us than help us. Smith is a sad little man who has to tongue lash anyone who disagrees with him. His insecurity comes out every day.

Good riddance Commission Jack Smith!

I don't think the GRTA buses running from Newnan to ATL would be considered Mass Transit if that is what you voted against...a number of years ago.

ptctaxpayer's picture

Ain't it funny, Jack, how when you got voted in it was "the will of the people." Then when the same folks voted you out it was a "political machine" that caused it. That's priceless.

suggarfoot's picture

Last week 3 of us were going into Atlanta around 8:30am for a showing. We were on 74 trying to enter I 85. My friends couldn't understand why the congestion. As we finally made it to McDonald's I pointed to the excess traffic feeding in at Oakley Rd onto 74 and the bottleneck became obvious to them. I then explained when the 'bypass to no where' is finished, all the EXTRA traffic on 92 (part of the bypass) will have no way to enter I85 except backtrack down Oakley to 74 and get in the conga line. They about flipped! The had a new found respect for what their husbands went through every morning. They were both quite puzzled as to WHY we would build something so counter productive to our own commuters.

That has been the big question. Why are we building something that will make our own commuters wait longer to get onto I 85?

If it was a propaganda campaign to throw out 2 commissioners as Jack Smith states, the wailing would have subsided by now. Could it just be that the wailing was, and is, in earnest?

Mr Smith, has it ever entered your egotistical mind that we don't want to make things harder on ourselves for the benefit of the developers trying to hawk their land?

The developer welfare has got to stop! Our poor teachers should build a shrine to their lost pay in from of Rivers Elementary. Or maybe in the middle of that 100 plus extra acres the BOE owns down south and can't unload. Now we read that we will soon have even fewer students.

We are sick and tired of our money being wasted. I can not imagine the empty schools along the bypass, nor the bypass itself, as anything but self serving at the abuse of the taxpayers.

Don't any of you 3 bother to think about running for re election.

hutch866's picture

Since the bypass comes out next to Westbridge the travelers have two other choices, they can go up Westbridge and either take 138W to I-85 or take Old National North to I-85. I think either would be an easy substitute for Oakley.

I yam what I yam

NUK_1's picture

Continue on 92 to Oakley and then turn right instead of left, or turn before Oakley on to a road on the right....forget its name but know it by sight and I'm not the only one using it :) This will take you an intersection at 138, turn left, boom, I-85. Depending on the time of day, this is a quicker route even though it's definitely longer.

I have taken the Old National way at times and it's hardly a bonus, but every now and then it's a change of "scenery" to say the least and I also think about what it looked like 35 years ago as a two lane road with only a McDonald's on it :)

I'm not a fan of WFB because I think for the money and it doesn't provide the benefits at all, but I think most opposed to WFB would still be opposed even if WFB connected directly to I-85. I don't sense the WFB opponents care at all about anyone commuting outside of FC or anyone trying to get into FC.

Now I agree with all that!

That is the old stagecoach road from Shakerag Hill. Doc Holliday rode it from Fayetteville to the OK coral!

Weren't McDonald's big something or other with Hawaiian dressing on them about $.19 each in them days? Cokes $.05. @ hamburgers and a coke for .$35---an hours pay. Still is an hour's pay!

What were you going to show in Atlanta?

Had you never before seen to and from work crowds?

My, my, it must get dull "showing" and bridgeplaying!

Momma Suggarfoot, you need to fetch your batteries and go back to bed. Do you even know what you're talking bout.. don't you think those people on your "bypass to nowhere" (can't you even be original) are on those roads now... it's to move people from the north county to the south county... alleviating congestion in the around the square. I can hear the humming now.

seriously, Ben Dover owns a Real Estate company in Jackson. Good guy...Bulldog to the core.

Hi, Ben...I'm downright tired of explaining how the Bypass Works.I speak my piece, then all is quiet for a while. Next thing you know, there's a new group of naysayers, and I start my schpeel all over again. Maybe you're just the guy to give us the fine details as to how the road will alleviate Fayetteville's congestion in terms of traffic. The commissioners have already chosen two of the possible answers. The first is that the county engineer said it was the best route, and the second is that the many, many consultants the county employed seem somewhat akin to soothsayers. They say that some day, development may finally come that way, so the county needs to hurry up and get the cart in front of the horse and press on with all possible dispatch.

In my own case, I can't get past the labyrinth of stop signs, turns, and close calls in Fulton County the road will lead into, and the overall impact of a two lane bypass on the ending and beginning points. Oh yeah, there's also the distance one has to drive just to get to both ends of it. It's quite a piece from Fayetteville, mate, but maybe the scenery is worth the difference.

We need to pass an ordinance banning all new commercial buildings until all of the empty builings are occupied. Hobby Lobby is about to move to the Pavillion. That old Walmart store is going to be another eyesore. Why take away people's property when we have plenty of commercial space available. We definitely do not need faster access to Clayton and Fulton unless it is going to be one way OUT OF FAYETTE only.

Well you see Mom different people own the different places.

They don't want in the empty places!

If you wanted to build a new home somewhere would you be happy to have to move into an empty one somewhere?

Banks are to blame you see, due to them loaning money to just about anyone when the "banker" (paper shuffler) doesn't know squat about the business!
The directors don't know either, but their stock kept going up!

There are however several thousand empty houses in Clayton County that you can buy or move into for about 35% on the dollar. Talk about eye-sores, you could reduce eye-sores some if you did that!

Anyway, an empty commercial building usually belongs to some bank and they won't rent it to anyone until the paperwork is cleared up! Who would negotiate the lease?

I'm sorry Mom that it is so complicated but that is what we get with loans of "excessive exuberance," by banks and such.

If I can be of further help ask Git. He holds some of those mortgages.

highflyer2's picture

Does these words sound a bit "familiar"?
Well once again I can only hope that all the people that rallied together and made sure this would happen enjoy themselves the next four years. BE CAREFUL FOR WHAT YOU WISH FOR!
I have only one question for Gina and all the other "well wishers"....I have always read that Peachtree City is the place of dreams and good things. A place where ALL DIVERSITIES can come together and live in harmony and peace. A place where we could ride our golf carts and not have to pollute our fresh air. A place where we could use goats to eat our weeds and not have to pollute once again with our weed eaters. If this is all true, will ONE PERSON please tell me why you are SO AGAINST MARTA coming to Fayette? Are the "behind closed door" people scared of something that the rest of the county doesnt know?
I for one am ashamed! I think all of Fayette County need to get together and PUSH for MARTA to come down 85 South to 74 and come straight into Peachtree City!

Sorry but no marta. They are broke. No money for expansion. They would not have any riders because so many people love their cars. It is that simple. Now if someone would build a monorail like at Disney then you would get riders, but not the dirty buses. I can only imagine the fight to not have a bus terminal in your neighborhood.

ginga1414's picture

If the ARC has anything to say about it, MARTA won't be broke after 2012. If Fayette County is still a member of the ARC in 2012, we won't have any choice in the matter. We are out numbered by the rest of the big counties in the ARC. A Regional Transportation SPLOST in 2012 will keep MARTA afloat, and if we are still a member of the ARC, we will be paying to bring MARTA buses into Fayette County. That is exactly what Jack Smith and Ken Steele want. THEY VOTED FOR IT!!

Hi, Mr. Highflyer. How about telling us what it is that you like so much about MARTA and how the majority of voters in the Republican Primary were wrong in voting against it? Do you believe that MARTA would bring with it nothing but benefits? Most comments I've read that favor MARTA don't give any detailed examples of what it will do for us. Maybe if we saw some good rationale in support of it, we could be followers. We're all, I mean eyes!

highflyer2's picture

I'm totally against MARTA. I'm just tired of having people speak out of one side of their mouth about "equal opportunity" and then be so scared about what MARTA "might" bring into the county.
MAN UP PEOPLE, say what's on your mind!

I'm not a developer from Jackson... but I know a Jackson that's a developer. Stating the obvious, you currently have four main ways to get north out of the county... Ugh... Ga 85 thru Riverdale... west fayetteville road thru a less dangerous part of clayton county... 92 to 138 and onto I-85... and then sugarfoot's way to Insurrection on Piedmont Road for a better assortment of sex toys, 74 to I-85... I live off of 92 north and the traffic every morning and afternoon is pretty bad... and taking Peters Road to 138 to get to I-85 is like gambling with the Union City cops or the uninsured motorists on 138... there has been talk of putting an interchange at 92 and I-85.. don't you think the developers (not the ones from Jackson) are licking their chops at the land north of that intersection for industrial... that would be good for all the folks traversing from the south county... you have to face it, the rural nature to the northern part of this county is on its way out... funneling all the south county traffic along the bypass to 92 and then over to I-85 the bypass is gonna get built, like it or not.

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