The US 411 Connector Saga Continues

Last weekend, Mary and I went up to her family’s place near Summerville, Georgia, for her late father’s annual family reunion and church homecoming.

During that weekend, we made a brief daytrip down US 27/GA 1 (a.k.a. “Martha Berry Highway”) to Rome to pick up some supplies for her mother and do a little sightseeing and driving around.

We took several photos around the area, including one of the Capitoline Wolf/Romulus and Remus statue that Benito Mussolini donated to Rome, Georgia, in 1929 as a token of friendship between Italy and the U.S.

Just after World War II began, the statue was removed and stored in a secret location due to prevailing anti-Italian sentiment. In 1952, the statue was placed in its current location and has been there since. For more information on the statue and its history, please click here.

While I didn’t do any “roadgeeking” in the area since we had to get back up to the farm, I did think about the proposed US 411 Connector and lamented on why it has not been built yet.

The next morning, I picked up my mother-in-law’s copy of the Rome News-Tribune, and lo-and-behold, there was a new front page article on the connector.

For those of you who may not have heard of this project, here’s a brief history…

In the early 1960s, the Georgia DOT (GDOT) built a 20-mile (32 km) 4-lane divided highway between Rome and US 41/GA 3 near Cartersville. US 411 was rerouted from its old route (current GA 293) onto this new route, which was also designated GA 344. In the late 1970s, the GA 344 designation was dropped and GA 20 was rerouted onto it, resulting in the current US 411/GA 20 we know today.

Since at least the 1980s, there has been a proposal to extend this highway eastward from US 41 to I-75, thus giving Rome a direct 4-lane connection to Atlanta. Several routes have been proposed and evaluated by GDOT, and in 2009, GDOT selected a route known as “Route D-VE”.

“Route D-VE” is a proposed limited-access 4-lane divided highway that would start at the eastern end of the 411 4-lane and end at I-75 at its interchange with GA 20 (Exit 290). Please click here for a map.

So what is keeping this road from being built? It’s not so much what as it is who… the Rollins Family!!!

The easternmost 2 miles (3.2 km) of the proposed highway goes through Dobbins Mountain, a property that the Rollinses own. The Rollinses claim that the road would do environmental damage and destroy the old “historic” Dobbins Mine, where manganese was mined from just after the Civil War through the 1940s. They also claim that the Cherokee Darter fish and Pink Ladyslipper flower were not properly accounted for in an environmental impact statement GDOT submitted to the Federal government.

In the meantime, the Rollinses donated an easement on their property to the City of Euharlee as a “wildlife refuge” and have invited various environmental groups to tour the property. On the surface, this sounds like a very noble thing, but IMHO, the Rollinses are manipulating as many people and groups as possible to keep the highway off their property.

The Rollinses have also been challenging “Route D-VE” in court and claiming that at least 2 other alternate routes would be better. One of them, designated as “Route A”, would use existing US 411, US 41, and GA 20 right-of-way with a bypass being built just north of the existing and antiquated US 41 and US 411 interchange near downtown Cartersville. This route would technically eliminate a “bottleneck” that traffic between Atlanta and Rome currently uses, but it would still keep traffic on US 41, which is riddled with traffic lights. Nearly 3 years ago, I traveled this segment myself and it seemed like it took forever to get to the US 411 4-lane. Furthermore, in 2005, GDOT determined that “Route A” would displace more homes and businesses, not to mention that it would do nothing to alleviate the existing congestion encountered on Cartersville’s stretch of US 41.

The other route, known as “Route G” would build a new 4-lane extension from the existing 411 4-lane to a point north of the I-75/GA 20 interchange. However, it would be too far out of the way to make any kind of difference in travel time.

As a roadgeek and Georgia motorist, I’m getting sick and tired of the unnecessary drama over this much needed Atlanta-to-Rome link and just wish that the Rollins family would admit that they only care about how much money (or lack thereof) that GDOT is offering them for their property. The route, D-VE, has been chosen, it has passed environmental muster, and plans have already been drawn up. All GDOT needs to do is buy the land and start building. Rollinses, you got a boatload of money as it is and could buy property anywhere you’d desire, so quit your “bellyaching”, drop the lawsuits, sell the property to GDOT, and let them finally build this much-needed and way overdue Atlanta-to-Rome connection. I’d love to be there to see GDOT and local officials break the first dirt on the first day of construction and cut the ribbon on the final opening.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, hope you have a happy and safe Memorial Day holiday, and please come back often.

SOURCE: “Extended Review For US 411 Connector”, Rome News-Tribune, May 20, 2012.

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