Expert: East Bypass ‘a dead-end road’
To be a ‘bypass’ it must — but does not — connect hwys. 85 & 92 south of F’ville, retired road builder contends
Fayette County resident David Wimmer contends that the $39.4 million East Fayetteville Bypass, as currently conceived, is not a bypass at all.
“It’s really a dead-end road,” Wimmer said of the current bypass alignment, noting that the southern end halts at the rural intersection of County Line Road/Inman Road and South Jeff Davis Drive at the south end.
If the county’s goal is to divert traffic around the area of downtown Fayetteville, the bypass should be extended to reach both Ga. highways 92 and 85 south of town, argues Wimmer, a retired road builder for the state of Indiana who now lives just west of the Fayetteville city limits.
The bypass as currently proposed would start north of Fayetteville at Ga. Highway 85 north and Corinth Road, running down Corinth to Hwy. 54, then along a new road path to reach County Line Road, which will serve as the remainder of the bypass for nearly its entire length.
Wimmer contends the East Bypass is crucial — and he supports it — but he contends it won’t be effective unless it links with Hwys. 92 and 85 south of downtown Fayetteville.
If not, the project won’t have its intended effect: the reduction of traffic going through Fayetteville’s downtown area, Wimmer said in an interview last week.
“I’m thinking particularly about the commercial traffic through town. You can’t take a bunch of trucks, vans clear up to 18-wheelers, off of Hwy. 85 here and bring them out into the middle of the country and say: ‘OK, guys, fend for yourself.’”
Given his road construction background, Wimmer has taken a keen interest in the East Bypass, taking pencil to paper to consider several different alignment options. He has also met with County Public Works Director Phil Mallon about the project.
Wimmer presented his recommendations to the Fayette County Board of Commissioners last month. The commission is expected to soon approve funding for the East Bypass from the county’s 2003 transportation sales tax revenues, with a large chunk of the funds coming from state and federal matching grants.
Part of the reason the bypass is so important, Wimmer said, is because of the future plans for highway widening in Fayette County, including Hwy. 54 east of Fayetteville, Hwy. 85 south of Fayetteville, and both Ga. highways 279 and 314.
“Those will increase the traffic load,” Wimmer said. “If we don’t get the bypass in place, the traffic downtown will just be unbearable.”
One of Wimmer’s options to extend the southern portion of the East Bypass is to use a more direct route, reaching from the northern portion of County Line Road westward and a bit to the south, linking up with Hwy. 92 at Jimmie Mayfield Boulevard in southeastern Fayetteville.
An ambitious plan, it almost certainly would be far more expensive than the current route because of the number of homes that would need to be purchased.
“That to me looks like the best possible route, and the shortest,” Wimmer said, conceding it would be costly but not too much in his estimation. “... Why spend $42 million and get almost nothing for it, than to spend maybe $50 million — I don’t know what the extra cost would be but I’m guessing — and get a real bypass that will solve the problem downtown for thousands of people every day for years and years and years ahead?”
Wimmer also has yet another option, which would involve extending the bypass along Inman, McBride and Harp roads to reach Hwys. 92 and 85 much further south of Fayetteville. While that is a much longer route, it would still be effective in rerouting traffic around the downtown square, Wimmer said.