DOT to hold Leesburg North Bypass hearing

LEESBURG, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold a mandated public hearing Tuesday to allow Lee County citizens to comment on the proposed Leesburg North Bypass project.

The project, which would begin adjacent to the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing that runs parallel to Starksville Avenue downtown, cross Smithville Avenue North and terminate on State Highway 195 north of downtown, would help clear much of the morning and afternoon traffic congestion in downtown Leesburg caused by school dropoff and pickup.

"Any time a project uses state or federal funding, a public hearing is required," Lee County Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander said earlier this week. "It gives citizens an opportunity to take a final look at the project and to make comments.

"Once the public hearing is completed, the DOT will evaluate the comments and -- if everything remains in order -- move forward with the acquisition of rights of way."

Alexander said the initial phase of the project is scheduled to begin during the 2012 fiscal year, which started July 1.

"The rights-of-way acquisition is on the books for the 2012 fiscal year," he said. "We anticipate that being done during this fiscal year and construction starting during the 2013 fiscal year."

Alexander said the North Bypass project will be built using state and federal DOT funds.

The open house public hearing will be conducted from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Kinchafoonee Conference Room at the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building, located at 102 Starksville Ave. N.

Citizens may also view the project and offer comments via the Internet at www.dot.ga.gov. Click on the "Public Outreach" tab on the right side of the DOT's Web page and look for job No. STP00-0001-00(420), P.I. No. 0001420.