Council halts 54W light request

DOT wants time to install new signal management system

A proposal to add a new traffic light on Ga. Highway 54 West for a new shopping center ran into a logjam of its own Thursday night, as the Peachtree City Council voted unanimously to table the request indefinitely.

The Georgia Department of Transportation asked for the delay so it would have time to install a new traffic signal management system on the highway, according to City Manager Jim Pennington.

The new system will use information from highway sensors to gauge when traffic is really congested, triggering an automatic switchover to one of several customized signal timing patterns to improve traffic flow. It is expected to take about three months to complete, though work is already underway. The $133,000 project is being funded by a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

“Their concern is making sure traffic improves at a better rate or at least keeps from going down to bad,” Pennington said.

The delay will also allow for completion of a corridor study requested by council that is expected to offer potential solutions for the recurring traffic problems on Hwy. 54 West.

Trinity Development asked the city to approve a permit request for the new light at Line Creek Drive where Trinity wants to build a 81,000 sq. ft. shopping center with a grocery store and other national retailers. Though council could approve or reject the request, the final say rests with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Council also tabled indefinitely a second request from Trinity: to allow a road connection from the shopping center to Planterra Way. Residents of the Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park subdivisions have opposed this link, arguing that it would make traffic worse on Planterra Way.

In the afternoon drive time, cars back up in the left hand turn lane approaching the highway, going as far back as the entrance to the city’s tennis center, and council has seen the proof in photos submitted by a Planterra resident two weeks ago. Navigating that mess takes about 10 minutes or more to get through, residents have said.

Several city council members have said they will work on fixing the issue with cut-through traffic.

Residents have also decried how a road link to the Shoppes at MacDuff shopping center further west was removed from the site plan, since it would allow vehicles at Trinity’s proposed shopping center to reach the existing traffic light on MacDuff Parkway.

Pennington told council that all of those traffic issues would be examined in the city’s traffic study, which was approved by council Jan. 16 at a cost of $70,000.

“The Planterra connection, the MacDuff connection and the traffic light, all those things have to be included,” Pennington said, adding that the study will also look at the entire area. “… That is already in the works.”

Traffic on Hwy. 54 West during afternoon drive times can get so congested that it often backs up beyond the traffic light on Willowbend Road at City Hall.

Though the new traffic signal management system is expected to improve traffic on Hwy. 54 West somewhat, it will not add more capacity to deal with the growing amount of vehicles on the highway. Some Wilksmoor Village residents have said that traffic will turn sour on the artery at other times of day instead of just during the afternoon commute.

“The last three or four years we try to avoid that intersection like the plague between 4 and 6 and even during the weekends,” Planterra resident Stephen Gleason told council Thursday night. “We’ll drive all the way back to Kelly Drive sometimes to get out or come home.”