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Bill Would Exempt 441 Project from Environmental Law

Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) supported SB 346.

The Georgia Senate has approved, with the support of Oconee County Sen. Bill Cowsert, a bill that would exempt the Georgia Department of Transportation from the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act.

The exemption likely would have a major effect immediately in Oconee County, as it would allow GDOT to bypass the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act in widening U.S. 441 from the Watkinsville Bypass to the Madison Bypass, including the construction of a bypass of Bishop.

GDOT and local officials have promised in several public meetings that the state would follow the provisions of the Georgia Environmental Policy Act and take into consideration the impact of the U.S. 441 widening on the environment and on cultural, historical and archaeological sites.

The bill is now before the Georgia House of Representatives, and the House Transportation Committee had the bill on its agenda for discussion at a meeting scheduled for late this afternoon.

Depending on the action of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Regina Quick and Rep. Chuck Williams, who, with Cowsert represent Oconee County in the Georgia General Assembly, could have a chance to vote on the proposed law in the remaining four days the Assembly is in session.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.