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4-7-08 Oconee Connector $ 26 million Project is more than a Name Change

……….the Oconee Connector Interchange has turned into a $ 25-30 Million project and is scheduled to start this year……………………………..Both projects have merit. However, more traffic in the Epps Bridge Area can turn into a situation like the Atlanta Highway “Mall Mess”. ……….

AVOC

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April 6, 2008

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Oconee Connector $ 26 million Project is more than a Name Change

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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The Oconee County Commissioners recently voted to change the name of the road at Home Depot and Kroger from Jennings Mill Parkway to Oconee Connector.   The Athens Banner-Herald (March 28, 2008- New link between 316, Epps Bridge in works by Adam Thompson) reported some information and discussion on the situation.   Bloggers responded mostly about the lack of a graphic and confusion in this situation.

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The “Change” does mean much to those who have followed Oconee County Transportation planning over the last dozen years.   It is much more than a name change.    It changed funding priorities from the Mars Hill Parkway to this development project which is designed to promote more commercial development in the area.     Oconee Connector Jennings Mill Parkway MACORTS 3 08.pdfx

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The Jennings Mill Parkway was originally a planned road from Epps Bridge to Atlanta Highway without having to get onto the loop or Epps Bridge Parkway.   The Oconee Connector was an Interchange to connect to Epps Bridge Parkway and to the new parkway from the Loop to Watkinsville which was in the works before the new project.  

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To See Compatibility of Mars Hill Parkway and Oconee Connector, SEE:

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Oconee.Connector.Jennings.Mill.Pkwy.Project.3.08.pdfx

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As Oconee Chairman and as an active participant in ACORTS, now MACORTS, I worked with both projects.   The Four-Lane Parkway between Watkinsville and the Athens Loop was the lead project.  Engineering had been in the works at least two years before Melvin Davis took office.

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Over the last several years, I have followed the progress of these projects and how the Mars Hill Corridor project was “pushed into”  Long Range Status.   At the same time, the Oconee Connector Interchange has turned into a $ 25-30 Million project and is scheduled to start this year.

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Both projects have merit.   However, more traffic in the Epps Bridge Area can turn into a situation like the Atlanta Highway “Mall Mess”.     More traffic (gridlock) resulting from increasing construction of commercial venues feeding into two lane roads will spell trouble for Oconee County Citizens in a few short years.

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Mars Hill Road Traffic in late 2007

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My biggest concern is the lack of media coverage and public involvement in this whole process.   It is a graphic example of changes made by the Chief Elected Official, current Chairman of MACORTS, largely in consultation with property owners and developers in the Epps Bridge Road area.    We need a more public and “big picture” approach to such a large commitment of county resources.

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Oconee County needs REAL public participation- hearings, citizen meetings and MORE DETAILS on such projects well before Groundbreaking.

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FOR MACORTS EXCERPTS AND MAPS AND AVOC NOTES,  SEE:

Oconee Connector Jennings Mill Parkway MACORTS 3 08.pdfx

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More information on this road plan is available at the MACORTS website.http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/macorts/TIP2008_2011Final.pdf 


3-28-08 Oconee Connector Name Change Report

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/032808/news_2008032800450.shtml

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March 28, 2008

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New link between 316, Epps Bridge in works

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Oconee Connector

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By Adam Thompson

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The county's Jennings Mill Parkway extension now will be called the Oconee Connector, matching the name of the short road it ties into and providing a new link between shopping centers on Epps Bridge Parkway and the major artery into the county, Georgia Highway 316.

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The $ 26 million project, which officials expect will be put out for bid in July, also is poised to open up a wealth of undeveloped land between the Athens Perimeter and Epps Bridge Parkway.

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Eventually, the Oconee Connector will loop from Mars Hill Road north, cross Ga. 316 and bend east over the Athens Perimeter, intersecting with Epps Bridge Parkway and ending at Daniells Bridge Road.

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Transportation planners essentially created a bypass around the busy Ga. 316-Epps Bridge interchange, so it makes sense to continue the "connector" name, said Wayne Provost, director of Oconee County's strategic and long-range planning department.

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The new road was conceived to relieve traffic and provide access between two congested commercial corridors, Atlanta Highway in Clarke County and Epps Bridge Parkway in Oconee.

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Oconee's name change doesn't alter plans for Clarke County's Jennings Mill Parkway, said Athens-Clarke transportation Director David Clark.

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A new Clarke section of Jennings Mill Parkway, between Jimmie Daniel Road and Commerce Boulevard and running parallel to Atlanta Highway, is complete and scheduled to open in May, Clark said.

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The road eventually will continue east over the perimeter, south to the county line and tie in with an unnamed road in Oconee County.

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Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 032808

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COMMENTS:

http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/macorts/TIP2008_2011Final.pdf 

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The Jennings Mill Parkway project, renamed as it says in the story to "Oconee Connector," is on Page 16 of the .pdf.


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