The Georgia Department of Transportation does not yet have an alignment in mind for a Watkinsville bypass that would get truck traffic off Greensboro Highway and onto Macon Highway.
At a Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study drop-in meeting last week, a number of Bishop residents said they don’t want a Watkinsville bypass to cause more truck traffic in Bishop.
Mayor Johnny Pritchett said he is fearful of traffic getting bottlenecked on the two-lane stretch of Macon Highway that is exempt from a lengthy widening project both north and south of downtown.
Downtown Bishop is largely comprised of private residences, antique stores and the Post Office. Bar G. Farm and the University of Georgia Equestrian Center can be accessed from Astondale Road, which intersects with both Macon Highway and Greensboro Highway.
Father Gregory Tipton of Saint Aelred Catholic Church, which meets at the Bishop Community Center, said parents have a responsibility to keep their children safe as they walk downtown.
“We definitely don’t want more trucks,” he said. “I understand Watkinsville has congestion that has to be alleviated, but you can’t fix that problem by doing something unjust to someone else.”
Tipton said he doesn’t have a particular route in mind but urged government officials not to bring it through Bishop.
Outgoing Bishop council woman Nedra Johnson shared the same sentiment, suggesting that instead of Astondale Road, the connection could be from Flat Rock Road. Although that would affect farm owners, a bypass can’t be built without impacting some private-property owners, she said.
At a joint Board of Commissioners/Board of Education meeting last week, BOC Chairman John Daniell said GDOT will study Flat Rock Road as a possible route.
MACORTS planner Sherry McDuffie said that although the bypass will begin south of Watkinsville, whether the connection to Macon Highway be south or north of Bishop is yet to be determined.
“There are no alignments on the table right now, whatsoever,” she told citizens. “If they find out there are land mines, they will know what to avoid.”
For more on this story, see the Oct. 7 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.