City and residents concerned northern bypass won't alleviate traffic concerns -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

City and residents concerned northern bypass won't alleviate traffic concerns

April 14, 2008 

Leesburg -- There's a proposed 30 million dollar bypass extension project for northern Lee County.  The idea isn't sitting well with people who live near the path it would take.

The road would run northeast from the current bypass over to Highway 195, but critics say it's the Northern Bypass to Nowhere and they don't want it.

It may look like just a field, but for Joe Dan Banker and his wife's it's their dream, a small farm in Lee County. Now that dream is in danger of being bull dosed to help alleviate traffic in downtown Leesburg.

"If they take it away there's no where locally within commuting distance of my job that I could get a place like this or similar. I can't afford, I've got 11 horses, donkeys and goats, I can't afford to board those somewhere," said homeowner Joe Dan Banker.

Here's the problem, traffic congestion every morning and afternoon at the intersections of Highways 19, 195 and 32.

"You have approximately 85 percent of the students, cars, and buses, and everything going from the south to the schools in the city," said Sidney Johnson Leesburg Mayor.

The congestion is compounded when a train rolls through, that's why more than a decade ago, the city, county, and school board went to the Department of Transportation for help building an overpass. Now they say the plan developed by Street Smart is a bypass to nowhere. It doesn't address concerns towards the south and reroutes traffic more than three miles north. Now, Officials are looking at alternatives.

"We come up to the intersection here at Highway 19, 195 and 32, we take out one stop sign make it a straight through traffic, we close the space there in front of the courthouse of 32 and make fourth Street a one way street all the way to Starksville," said Johnson.

Banker and his neighbors agree with city officials there's got to be a better way.

"It is traffic and it does need to be addressed but this isn't going to do it and the other thing they said is on court days it's crowded down there but that's a parking issue," said Banker.

Now they're encouraging Street Smart to scrap the 30 million dollar plan for a northern bypass and look at better options to alleviate traffic where it's needed most, south of the city.

Mayor Sidney Johnson will meet with County Planning Engineer Bob Alexander Tuesday to look at other possible options for the Department of Transportation to consider.



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