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City, county continue to push for bypass route
Tom Couch Web
Tom Couch, Bulloch County manager - photo by Herald File
    Nearly four years after the Statesboro City Council and Bulloch County Commission passed a joint resolution asking for the route of the northern arc of the bypass to be determined, the Georgia Department of Transportation appears to be close to identifying a path.
    Teresa Scott, district planning and program engineer for the DOT, said a tentative route has been selected, but it won't be finalized until the environmental and historical analysis have been completed.
    "We're going to begin the environmental analysis and once that's complete, we'll have a better idea of where the roadway will go," she said.
    The city and county passed a joint resolution in 2003 asking for the DOT to determine where the road should go and proceed with securing the right of way. The resolution did not call for the construction of the road immediately.
    At that time, city and county officials were concerned about the possibility of developers building where the road would need to go, thereby dramatically increasing the cost of acquiring the necessary property. That concern is still front and center for city and county leaders today.
    "There's a lot of property owners who are anxious for one reason or another for them to pick a route," said Tom Couch, Bulloch County manager. "Primarily they are developers who are tying to be patient until a route is identified."
    City Manager George Wood, echoed Couch's sentiments, saying there are developers who want to build in that area, but are being held up because they don't know where the parkway will go.
    Scott said she doesn't know why it's taken so long for the DOT to determine an alignment for the road.
    "Because we're using federal funds, we have to follow very strict environmental regulations," she said. "We have to coordinate with historical analysis, wetlands mitigation and lots of different reports."
    While the parkway opened more than a decade ago, the northern arc of the bypass wasn't constructed at the time. Not only that, the route it would take wasn't determined and hasn't been in the intervening years.
    "I don't know of any community that builds 75 percent of a perimeter road or parkway around the city and then stops," Wood said. "We've got to have this finished.
    Even though most, if not all, of the property needed for the completion of the parkway lies outside of the city limits Wood called the completion of the bypass critical to both the city and county.
    "When you do traffic and transportation planning, you've got to look 25 to 30 years into the future," he said. "This impacts the transportation system in the city and all of Bulloch County."
    Wood, Couch and Scott all said they didn't know why it has taken so long for a route to be selected, but Wood credited Raybon Anderson, who serves on the state's Transportation Board, for pushing the project forward.
    Meanwhile, work continues on the existing portion of the bypass to four-lane the road. That project is expected to be completed by November. Couch said the completion of that will help alleviate traffic congestion on the southern and eastern portions of the parkway.
    But before anyone gets their hopes up for a completed bypass coming anytime soon, Couch cautioned that it will be some time before the parkway is finished.
    "I think it's years away before we realize the completed bypass," he said.
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