Peachtree City seeks traffic solutions

It’s either SPLOST funding or higher property taxes to pay for Hwy. 54 intersection improvements

Peachtree City seeks traffic solutions

Driving in Peachtree City is a growing hassle because of increasing traffic volume, and improving that flow is high on the priority list for Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie, who frequently rides local roads, assessing the progress on various city projects.

Rorie said problems with traffic issues along Ga. Highway 54 West have both short-term and long-term solutions. He cautioned that an even more pressing issue is to view traffic flow problems with Hwy. 54 as one that affects Fayette County and its neighbors.

Rorie said the city in 2014 commissioned a Hwy. 54 corridor study stretching from the Coweta County line to Willowbend Road. The study included identifying potential solutions to the increased traffic flow in the areas of the intersections at MacDuff Parkway and Planterra Way.

The study recommended eliminating the split-phase traffic signal at both MacDuff and Planterra. The city subsequently developed engineering plans and received Ga. Department of Transportation (DOT) approval, Rorie said.

More than 36,000 vehicles per day on Hwy. 54 pass through the intersections. The two projects are included in the March SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) project list. With a SPLOST failure or in the absence of doing nothing, the alternative to SPLOST-funded project would be another method of raising construction funds, such as a millage rate increase.

A $650,000 project, the improvement at Planterra Way would eliminate the split-phasing of the traffic signal. Split-phasing means the left turn from Planterra onto Hwy. 54 and the left turn from the Walmart area onto Hwy. 54 cannot be operated at the same time and, consequently, increases the traffic cycling time and causes more back-ups.

If approved by voters, the project would add a dedicated left turn lane out of Planterra, construct dual, left turn lanes out of Walmart and make the appropriate signal modifications.

Also a $650,000 project a short distance to the west, the MacDuff intersection would have dual left turn lanes installed for vehicles turning east onto Hwy. 54 and extend the left turn lane for traffic from Hwy. 54 turning left onto MacDuff.

Noting that the traffic flow issues pertain to other intersections, Rorie said, “It’s the whole corridor we have to focus on.”

It is noteworthy that the traffic issues along the Hwy. 54 corridor, including the most recent inclusions onto the SPLOST list, have been discussed at numerous city meetings over the past several years.

Aside from the resurfacing of Hwy. 54 from Coweta to McDonough Road in Fayetteville by DOT beginning in the spring, there is a massive, $8 million Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI) project by DOT coming in 2020 to totally re-do the intersection at highways 54 and 74. A CFI intersection design moves left-turn vehicles across the opposing direction of traffic approximately 600 feet before reaching the intersection. The design removes the need for a protected left-turn phase and allows the use of a two-phase traffic signal, according to DOT.

Rorie on Monday said DOT is prepared to continue with the project. The city has requested a copy of DOT’s concept report and will continue to look at all options.

Rorie noted that the 2014 corridor study projected that traffic along Hwy. 54 will increase by 60 percent by 2040. That means the traffic on Hwy. 54, running across all of Fayette County, is a regional issue and not one that pertains only to Peachtree City, Rorie said.

Beyond that, the Hwy. 54 corridor is a issue that affects Fayette and Coweta counties and other along its course.

While perhaps ambitious and citing an example, Rorie maintained that the 2020 continuous flow intersection project which will handle traffic volumes for a projected 20 years need not be where the city and the region ends its consideration.

“We’re asking DOT to look to 2040 or 2050, to look that far out,” Rorie said. “It’s a regional problem with a Peachtree City impact. We have to look at the entire area for long-term solutions.”