The bypass project would run from Highway 61 north to tie into Highway 101 at Industrial Boulevard, allowing truck traffic coming from Dallas to avoid downtown, but it has been delayed by many different regulations required for the construction of state and federal highways, including for environmental concerns, that aren’t always required for local road projects.
Delays have also caused previous work to become outdated and in need of resubmittal. The city was informed Nov. 2 that its traffic count study was too old and would need to be redone.
“We’ve spent around $800,000 on this project since I’ve been here,” said Villa Rica City Manager Larry Wood. “We have two large stacks of drawings, one for each leg, but not much more.”
The latest requirement was a habitat assessment for the Indiana bat, which Wood said is believed to live in an old mine that lies along the road’s path.
Now, the city will look at its own local project to accomplish the same goal of the bypass project.
“We have made commitments to the state and they haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain,” said Villa Rica Mayor J. Collins, who proposed the idea of a local project. “We can sit here for hours and discuss the ifs and whens. What I want to know, personally, is if we built that road from Highway 61 to Highway 101 at the industrial park, if we built it and did so to our standards, I feel confident we can build a road for much less that the Department of Transportation.”
Wood said the city would still have to secure erosion control and ground disturbance permits, and would probably still need approval on creek crossings. But it could bypass some of the environmental concerns.
City Council members did not like the idea of funding the study on the Indiana bat habitat.
“Anything to get away from the Indiana bat study,” said Councilman Verland Best. “The next thing we’ll have to do is a South Carolina possum study, maybe a Florida gator study.”
After Wood informed the council that the bat study couldn’t be done until May or June in any case, the council voted unanimously to table the agreement until it could be determined how much it would cost to do the project locally.
The council also voted to appoint Randy Dean as the mayor pro tem for 2013.