53 homes may be
in path of highway
DOT does not have list of those who could be affected
BY ZACH MITCHAM
As many as 53 Madison County households and 11 commercial establishments
may be forced to move to make way for a Danielsville bypass and
Hwy. 29 road-widening project slated for construction in 2006.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials met with local
government and utility representatives Friday in the DOT's Office
of Environment/Location in Atlanta to discuss plans for the bypass
and Hwy. 29 improvement project, which will include establishing
four lanes from Hwy. 106 to north of Danielsville.
Scott Tolar, computer/location engineer with the DOT, told those
on hand that 35 houses, 18 mobile homes and 11 commercial buildings
may fall in the path of the proposed highway project. However,
he stressed that those numbers are not set in stone, saying that
the figures represent a "worst-case scenario."
Asked for a list of those who may be affected, Tolar said the
DOT does not have the names of the property owners who may be
in the path.
"It's in such a preliminary stage that we don't have that,"
said Tolar, adding that the number of homes affected is subject
Jerry Hobbs, location engineer supervisor for the DOT, said "minimizing
dislocation" is a "prime control of where we put this
The DOT, which will construct the project in two phases, won't
finalize the route of the bypass and highway expansion for quite
some time. Tolar said the proposed route may face minor adjustments
now that the DOT has met with government and utility representatives.
The highway path may be "tweaked" again after two public
meetings for citizens to voice their concerns. No date has been
set for either meeting. Tolar said the first public meeting will
be held sometime within the next year or two. Local newspapers
will run notices of those meetings and signs will be placed along
roadsides. But those who may be in the path of the project should
not expect a letter from the DOT informing them of the meetings.
Once public input has been received and route plans have been
finalized, the DOT will offer a "fair market value"
to property owners in the path of the project. The DOT plans
to secure rights of way for the estimated $30 million project
Some local officials have said the bypass won't do nearly as
much good on the west side of town as the east, where it could
help relieve school traffic.
But Hobbs said the DOT studied both routes and found that the
west side was a much better option. A west-side bypass will cost
less, handle more traffic and keep traffic bound for I-85 out
of downtown Danielsville.
"Twice as many would use it on the west than the east,"
said Hobbs of the bypass. "And if you put it on the east
you're going to make everybody go right through town to go to
According to Tolar, 75 percent of the improved portion of Hwy.
29 will be on new land.
"Most of the existing (Hwy. 29) roadway is substandard,"
Hobbs said portions of Hwy. 29 that are not included in the expansion
project will probably be county maintained.
Board of commissioners chairman Wesley Nash and county clerk
Morris Fortson were the only Madison County government representatives
on hand Friday. Nash urged the DOT officials to keep in mind
that traffic will increase soon around the Dogsboro intersection
as an elementary school opens nearby and new businesses locate
in the area.