McCaysville City Council agrees to maintenance on GDOT’s new lighting

Community, News

The McCaysville City Council met for its monthly meeting on Feb. 12, 2019 in City Hall. On the agenda was Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) asking the City to consider maintenance on the upcoming Hwy 5 roundabout.

GDOT will begin construction on Highway 5, also known as Blue Ridge Highway, scheduled for 2020.

There is a proposed truck route with two roundabouts – one in McCaysville beginning near School Street and the other across the river toward Copperhill, TN. These roundabouts will ease traffic flows in both towns by relieving congestion at Blue Ridge Drive and TN 68/GA 60 intersection.

The Council agreed to the following resolution:

                                                              The proposed roundabout in McCaysville GA

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Where will the new Iron Bridge be? Citizens voice their opinion over placement.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Citizens united to express concerns over the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) initial plans to replace the Shallowford Bridge or “Iron Bridge” located off of Aska Road, and now they unite once again to present solutions rather than complaints to GDOT about the future of the Aska Adventure Area.


Originally the fate of the Shallowford Bridge came into question when plans emerged for a replacement bridge in the area.

GDOT Proposal of replacement site for the Shallowford Bridge.


Constructed from a steel truss frame and having a wooden deck to allow for traffic, the 100 year old Shallowford Bridge spans 175 feet crossing the Toccoa River. The bridge also forms part of the Benton MacKaye Trail.


These concerns were relieved when GDOT announced that they would not be demolishing the Shallowford Bridge, but rather would be constructing a new bridge nearby. GDOT also expressed that they would be willing to “hand over” the bridge to become property of Fannin County leaving the county responsible for maintenance.


The new location of an upgraded bridge has many residents and business owners in the area concerned. Set almost directly beside the Shallowford Bridge, citizens feel that this could cause more congestion and more safety issues in the area.


“The majority of us, we’re not against the bridge,” Kimberly Wolfe co-owner of the Iron Bridge General Store and Cafe said explaining the purpose of the meeting. “We feel like we do need a new bridge. That’s not an issue. The placement of the new bridge is a huge issue.”


“This one (Shallowford Bridge) has been on the radar for a long time. Out of 100 it scores 13 on sufficiency,” Emil Dunn a member of the State Transportation Board elaborated on the need to build a replacement bridge.


Ron Grace, a resident of the Aska Adventure Area, proposed a different site for the replacement bridge. This site located beyond the Shallowford Bridge, traveling in the direction of Newport Road, would utilize a small portion of land currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Design options shown by GDOT. One similar to these designs will be constructed for the replacement bridge.


Having spoke with the GDOT project manager for the Shallowford Bridge replacement, Grace said of the interaction, “They had not considered the US Forest Service property. They say they are going to look at it.”


According to Grace, GDOT had only considered the proposed site which they presented to the public and a site upstream closer to the Toccoa River Restaurant, but that the second site would have required the purchase of a home.


“Not knowing anything, they put it there because they thought it would look the best and have the least amount of impact,” Dunn spoke of GDOT’s reasoning for the placement saying that it came from an engineer’s perspective and that the proposed site would have the least environmental impact.


Another resident present at the meeting added, “When they (GDOT) picked that site it was because the bank was already high and you didn’t have to build up the bank.”


Area business owner Felton Stephens spoke of the group’s proposal to move the bridge further from the site recommended by GDOT: “It’s a win win situation, it takes most of the traffic off of the home owners, and they could also, if the county wanted to, put in a little more public parking out there. A little bit more access.”


Stephens spoke of adding additional parking near the bridge if it were to be moved to U.S. Forest Service land and an area where kayakers and tubers of the Toccoa would have a place to get in and out of the river.


While citizens seemed agreeable to approaching GDOT with the new proposal site up river, questions still came about regarding the upkeep of the original Shallowford Bridge.


Beyond Fannin County’s already budgeted roads and bridges line item, Dunn also pointed out that there is the possibility of extra funding from the state through the use of a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG).

Historical photo of the Shallowford Bridge courtesy of the Library of Congress.


If a typical LMIG is applied for by the county and accepted by the state, it allows for a certain amount of money to be designated toward a county project with the county being responsible for a percentage of the cost.


Another option for restoration and maintenance of the Shallowford Bridge was presented by a resident saying that it might be possible to have the bridge put on the Historic Register which would allow for extra funding to be received for its preservation and care.


According to the Library of Congress the “Iron Bridge” is one of 50 Pratt truss bridges recorded in the state of Georgia. Three of of the 50 bridges on record reside in Fannin County.


The fate of the new Shallowford Bridge is yet to be determined, but citizens hope that their voices will be heard before a final decision is made.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

GDOT proposed plans for a new McCaysville-Copperhill truck route

News, Press Release

Public encouraged to attend the meeting.

Blue Ridge, Ga–  A public information open house to view the proposed project to improve State Route (SR) 5 and construct a new location truck route in Fannin County, Georgia and in Polk County, Tennessee is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11, 2018, from 4 to 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the McCaysville Church of God, located at 1477 Blue Ridge Drive in the city of Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Residents interested in learning more about the proposed project are encouraged to attend the meeting and to visit the website at www.dot.ga.gov.

The proposed project will improve State Route 5 from Old Flowers Road to Colton Avenue by resurfacing the existing two lanes on this portion and constructing 10-foot wide shoulders with 16-inch rumble strips for driver notification of roadway departure. The proposed project will transition to two lanes with curb and gutter with 5-foot sidewalks on both sides. At the intersection of SR 5 and School Street, the project proposes the installation of a roundabout. To learn more about the benefits of roundabouts, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Roundabouts. The proposed improvements continue northeast along the existing SR 5/Blue Ridge Drive alignment for approximately 0.4 miles to the Toccoa Avenue.

The project also proposes to construct a two-lane truck route along a new location alignment approximately 1.1 miles in length beginning at the proposed roundabout on existing SR 5 at School Street. The roadway continues northwest crossing into Tennessee, then turns to the northeast and bridges over W Tennessee Ave, the Ocoee River, the existing railroad and Tennessee SR 68/Ocoee Street. The roadway then loops around toward the southeast and ties into Tennessee SR 68/Ocoee Street near Colonial Avenue where a second roundabout is proposed.

Grant Waldrop, district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville explains, “This meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to review the proposed project and see how the improvements will accommodate taking truck movements out of downtown McCaysville/Copperhill as well as enhance economic development opportunities within Fannin and Polk Counties and the Appalachian region by providing operational improvements along the corridor which may lessen crash frequency and severity.”

The Open House will be informal and the public is invited to attend anytime between 4 and 7 p.m.  The meeting site is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling Joseph Ciavarro at 678-721-5164.

Written statements will be accepted concerning this project until Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Written statements may be submitted to:

Mr. Eric Duff, State Environmental Administrator
Georgia Department of Transportation
Office of Environmental Services
600 West Peachtree Street, NW – 16th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike, and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to its citizens and its environment.

GDOT: Edge pavement repair begins on GA 60 in Fannin County

Press Release

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew begins today its work on repairing the deteriorating edges of pavement on State Route (SR) 60 in Murray County.  Work will proceed daily Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Edge repair is a maintenance activity that is intended to guard against pavement failure along the edges due to the action of traffic and the loss of edge support that occurs due to the presence of water, aggressive-growth vegetation, and wind from either traffic or the atmosphere.  Georgia DOT’s edge repairs are designed to minimize the effects of shoulder drop offs and maximize the safety of the roadway for the traveling public.

You know that construction work zones are dangerous, but do you know that they are not always stationary? Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, asphalt repair, mowing, edge pavement repair, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently. Treat moving work zones like any other – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. Work zone safety is in your hands. 

Put your phone away and just drive: Hands-Free cell phone use is now the law drivers in Georgia

Press Release

Hands-Free cell phone use is law

Drive Alert Arrive Alive, Georgia!

CARTERSVILLE, Ga.—Just put down the phone and DRIVE! Hands-free cell phone use is now the law for drivers in Georgia. The Hands-Free Law (House Bill 673; Hands-Free Georgia Act), which went into effect on July 1, requires hands-free technology when drivers use cell phones and other electronic devices. Among other things, it is illegal for a driver to hold a phone in their hand or to use their body to support a phone. Penalties range from $50 and one point on a license for the first conviction to $150 and three points for the third and subsequent convictions.

Read Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) The EXTRA MILE blog post – Hands-Free Means Big Changes for the Better in Georgia – by guest author Robert Hydrick of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). For additional information on the many facets of the law, visit http://www.headsupgeorgia.com/handsfree-law/.

“I am optimistic that Georgia’s new Hands-Free law will save lives,” GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry. P.E. said. “I also want to emphasize how crucial it is for drivers and passengers to buckle up. Seatbelts truly save lives.”

Through its Drive Alert Arrive Alive campaign, GDOT has, for several years, called attention to an alarming surge in fatalities on Georgia’s roads after a decade of reductions. Many of these deaths are preventable. The campaign implores motorists to focus on driving, to not drive distracted and to wear a seatbelt to reduce the chance of serious injury or death if there is a crash. Visitwww.dot.ga.gov/DAAA.

While GDOT reports that, as of June 28, 2018, overall roadway fatalities are down 10 percent in Georgia from the same time last year, pedestrian deaths are up 22 percent. GDOT’s See & Be Seen campaign, the pedestrian component of Drive Alert Arrive Alive, emphasizes that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between motorists and pedestrians. Visit www.dot.ga.gov/SBS.

Summer construction roadwork is underway across Georgia. Before you get on the road, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org for real-time information about active construction, incidents and road conditions.Pay extra attention in work zones – slow down and watch for workers.  Work zone safety is everybody’s responsibility. 

Work on a project to upgrade signals at four intersections in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens

Press Release

Work to begin soon on four signal upgrades in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties 

  • ELLIJAY, Ga. – Work could begin soon on a signal upgrade project in at various location in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties. Georgia DOT has just awarded a contract to World Fiber Technologies, LLC. of Land O Lake, Florida, valued at close to a million dollars for a construction project to upgrade the signals at four intersections in these three counties. The project includes a complete signal upgrade with pedestrian accommodation for every intersection. This would bring these intersections up to ADA requirements and replace old signal parts in place. The four intersections are at the following locations:
  • State Route (SR) 515 at Ballewtown Road in Fannin County
  • SR 52 at SR 2/River Street in Gilmer County
  • SR 53 Business at Main Street in Pickens County
  • SR 53 Business at Sammy McGhee Blvd in Pickens County

“This project and others like it in northwest Georgia add up to these two things- better and safer mobility and a better quality of life for all the area residents,” said Grant Waldrop, assistant district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville.

This signal upgrade project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2019, at a construction cost of $736,739. Information on construction and lane closure schedules on this project will be forthcoming before work begins.

More details on this and other projects in the Department’s most recent bid awards are available via Award Announcement Download at: https://www.bidx.com/ga/letting?lettingid=18051801.

The Georgia Department of Transportation continues its 2018 construction program.  Dozens of important roadway improvement projects are ongoing this summer throughout northwest Georgia as we work to deliver projects on time and on budget while keeping our transportation network the nation’s finest. Pardon the necessary inconvenience and please drive cautiously and safely at all times, especially in work zones.

The public is urged to “know before you go.” For real-time information on active construction, incidents and more, call 511 or visit www511ga.org before you get into your car.

Roadway work zones are hazardous for workers and for the public. In fact, most fatalities in work zones crashes are drivers or passengers. Obey the rules in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. It can make the difference between life and death. Remember – work zone safety is in your hands. For information on the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov.  You also may like us on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/GDOTNW) and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GDOTNW).

Georgia DOT repairs the pavement on State Route 60

Press Release

GDOT: Edge pavement repair begins in Fannin County 

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew begins today its work on repairing the deteriorating edges of pavement on State Route (SR) 60 in Fannin County.  Work will proceed daily Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Edge repair is a maintenance activity that is intended to guard against pavement failure along the edges due to the action of traffic and the loss of edge support that occurs due to the presence of water, aggressive-growth vegetation, and wind from either traffic or the atmosphere.  Georgia DOT’s edge repairs are designed to minimize the effects of
shoulder drop offs and maximize the safety of the roadway for the traveling public.

You know that construction work zones are dangerous, but do you know that they are not always stationary? Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, asphalt repair, mowing, edge pavement repair, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently. Treat moving work zones like any other – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. Work zone safety is in your hands.

Discussions continue over Board of Education $250,000 land purchase

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – After news spread of the Fannin County Board of Education’s recent approval to purchase one acre of land on Highway 515 for a price tag of $250,000, citizens questioned the necessity of this purchase and inquired about the legalities of its use.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney, along with Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss and Fannin County School System’s Director of Facilities and Maintenance Danny Shinpaugh, sat down with FetchYourNews to answer questions and address concerns over this purchase.

This one-acre plot of land, which will serve as a connector to the school system’s new agricultural development positioned off of Ada Street, is located along Highway 515 between Windy Ridge Road and Josh Hall Road.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County Attorney, Lynn Doss, Director of Facilities and Maintenance, Danny Shinpaugh, Agricultural Department, Ada Street, Highway 515, Windy Ridge Road, Property Purchase, $250,000, Georgia Department of Transportation, GDOT

Main entrance to agricultural campus will be shared with Fannin County’s new fire station and E-911 center.

Doss explained that the 31 acres off of Ada Street has been under the ownership of the Fannin County School System for many years: “The school system has owned that property for about 15 years.”

According to Doss, the Ada Street land was originally purchased in 2006 with plans to build a new school if the need arose. The land itself was centrally enough located and met state requirements at that time for a new school.

Since the need for a new school never came to pass, the school system, over the years, have looked at a number of ways in which to utilize this property and, in recent years, decided that it would be ideal for an agricultural facility.

The property currently has an entrance/exit along Ada Street, but Gwatney pointed out that it would be used very minimally and primarily in the event of an emergency.

The property’s main point of access is along the Windy Ridge Connector, where the school system has partnered with Fannin County, and a roadway will be shared with the new fire station and allow access to the agricultural facility.

Questions arose about the need for the acre of land located on Highway 515 and the logistics of its use after Gwatney released a statement explaining the purchase.

In the statement, Gwatney said, “If you hear that our school system paid $250,000 for an acre of property, it is true; however, there is more that you need to know about this purchase, and I want you to have the facts.”

Gwatney also pointed out in the same statement that district personnel, including himself, has already met with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), and it has been determined that a deceleration lane may be placed ahead of the existing entrance to the property on Hwy. 515.

No official approval has been granted to the school system to make changes to the property in the GDOT right of way, but a GDOT representative did confirm with school officials that these changes were possible.

Gwatney clarified about circumstances of the possible deceleration lane: “We just wanted to make sure whether it was feasible, and that’s what we talked to GDOT about.”

In order for any improvements to be made to the entrance of the property, including a deceleration or an acceleration lane, permission would have to be granted from GDOT and special permits would need to be obtained by the Fannin County School System.

Fannin County School System’s Director of Facilities and Maintenance Danny Shinpaugh confirmed that any of these improvements would have to be carried out by GDOT-approved contractors and engineers and meet GDOT-approved standards and plans.

According to the GDOT Regulations for Driveway and Encroachment Control, a right turn lane may be required of the school system in order to use this property as an entrance: “Right turn deceleration lane must be constructed at no cost to the Department if the daily site generated Right Turn Volumes (RTV) based on ITE Trip Generation (assuming a reasonable distribution of entry volumes) meet or exceed” 50 right turns into the property daily.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County Attorney, Lynn Doss, Director of Facilities and Maintenance, Danny Shinpaugh, Agricultural Department, Ada Street, Highway 515, Windy Ridge Road, Property Purchase, $250,000, Georgia Department of Transportation, GDOT

Ownership and maintaining of a deceleration lane after completion is also described in the GDOT regulations as: “The R/W for accel/decel lanes may be dedicated in fee simple to the Department for the Department to maintain or the applicant must sign an agreement with the Department to maintain the lane to the Department’s standards and to hold harmless the Department in the event that section of roadway is identified in any liability action.”

While the addition of the deceleration lane could be an expensive venture for the school system, Gwatney stated that there are currently no plans to implement the right turn lane, and the main reason for the purchase of the property was for direct Hwy. 515 access and to allow for a variety of options in traffic control onto and off of the land.

“We would have acquired this property without that (deceleration lane),” Gwatney said, explaining the school system’s stance on the purchase. “It wouldn’t be near the worth if we couldn’t do that.”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County School System, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County Attorney, Lynn Doss, Director of Facilities and Maintenance, Danny Shinpaugh, Agricultural Department, Ada Street, Highway 515, Windy Ridge Road, Property Purchase, $250,000, Georgia Department of Transportation, GDOT

Site where possible future deceleration/acceleration lanes would be placed.

A question also arose pertaining to whether the property’s existing entrance was already zoned for commercial use, as getting a commercial entrance onto Hwy. 515 could be difficult and costly.

According to the GDOT regulations, in the case of Non-commercial Driveways “a driveway serving a school, government building, church, hospital or other non-commercial organization inviting public use. Design guidelines relating to commercial driveways will be applicable to driveways serving these land uses.”

However, Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss said that this is not a concern for this project: “It’s not a thing where we are because we’re outside of the city limits. In the county, we don’t have zoning, so we have no commercial, residential or industrial.”

While the plans for the one-acre tract are yet to be determined, Gwatney suggested some possible uses. The land could serve as an exit from the facility for southbound traffic turning right onto Hwy. 515, and the main entrance off of Windy Ridge Connector would serve as an exit for northbound traffic allowing this traffic access to a traffic light in order to turn left onto Hwy. 515.

Another plus noted by both Gwatney and Shinpaugh in relation to purchasing this land is the use of the existing buildings on the property.

“The school system is always hurting for storage,” Shinpaugh noted.

The property currently has 18 storage units, all of which have the space to house large equipment. These buildings will be put to use by the school system.

As for the purchase of this tract, Gwatney explained that it was not needed for the land’s original purpose in 2006, but as the purpose of the land changed, so did the needs to accommodate the facility: “It makes our existing project better.”

The new agricultural facility is expected to be completed by June 30 of this year.

[Featured Image: Entrance onto recently purchased property from Highway 515. According to Doss, this entrance will not require a commercial zoning permit.]

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

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