There is finally some movement on the Monroe Bypass, now named the the SR 83 Connector. According to Carl Hofstadter, the engineer working on the project for Hofstadter & Associates, it is likely to be open to traffic sometime in 2020 or 2021.
Some changes, however, are being considered before that can be done. In an update to the Monroe city officials at the June City Council meeting, Hofstadter said the Georgia Department of Transportation is considering changing the project to complete it with state dollars as opposed to federal dollars.
“If this change can be made the environment rules change from NEPA (National Environmental Protection Agency) to GEPA (Georgia Environmental Protection Agency) and that difference is tremendous and will speed the project up tremendously,” Hofstadter said, going on to say it will also mean a significant financial saving to the project as it does not require the sound wall necessary for noise mitigation – a cost saving of about $1.7 to $2 million dollars. “And the environmental review will be shortened by about 6 – 12 months.”
Hofstadter said this has come up several times with Georgia DOT, but this is the first time it looks like they are seriously considering the change. He is currently awaiting the decision by Georgia DOT, but if they choose to make the switch, the environment reports will be ready for submission by December 2015. That will put the project on track for a completion date of sometime between the summer of 2020 or 2021.
The city was also asked to consider a roundabout as the entrance to the city on Highway 11 from the south where the connector branches off to bypass the city toward State Route 83. It would require that the city pay $40,000 toward the re-engineering for the roundabout, but Hofstadter said the roundabout has been proven to be safer than signage. Officials pointed out this would not be the first roundabout in Walton County. There is one in Walnut Grove and another planned for Bold Springs.
The new road would be a 4.7 mile connector that would begin with the roundabout at its intersection with Highway 11 about half a mile south of the Monroe city limits heading in from Social Circle. It would end at the James Huff Road and Highway 78 intersection with SR 83.
At this time, no action is required until the Georgia DOT announces whether or not it will change to a state project. In the meantime, the city is considering the benefits of changing to the roundabout instead of the signage intersection currently planned. For more information on this project, click this link.