Plans for Poplar Road interchange moving forward

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Plans for the interchange project at Interstate 85 and Poplar Road in Coweta County may be moving closer to fruition. Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay on Tuesday said he hopes to be able to announce the approval by the Georgia Dept. of Transportation of the project’s concept plan and value engineering study at the June 5 meeting of the Coweta County Commission.

The concept plan and value engineering study were previously completed and submitted and have been awaiting approval by DOT. Both project components are a requirement of the state and federal governments. The aim of the value engineering study was to improve project quality, reduce project costs, foster innovation, eliminate unnecessary and costly design elements and ensure efficient investments, Gay said.

A further federal requirement pertaining to the study required that it be performed by a multi-disciplinary team of individuals who are not personally involved in the design of the project.

“Getting the value engineering study and concept plan approved is a major step in the interchange project,” Gay said Tuesday.

If secured by the June 5 meeting, the approval would pave the way for the commission to hire an engineering firm to develop the design plan and the location of the full-diamond interchange that DOT prefers so that right-of-way acquisition areas can be identified.

DOT approval would mean that a tentative timeline for the project could have engineering for the interchange completed in approximately one year and right-of-way acquisition 18 months later.

As for funding, local efforts will come from the local SPLOST in the amount of $15 million. The project will also require state and federal funds that are expected to be forthcoming as the interchange project process continues to unfold.

The interchange project is significant because it is the location of the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital that opened in mid-May. As with many other metropolitan hospitals, the area around the hospital on Poplar Road will likely see the emergence of other healthcare providers and businesses in the future.

Indications of that emergence are already beginning to take shape. When Piedmont Newnan opened in May, it did so with a 125,000 square-foot medical office building situated adjacent to the hospital. That large office building was leased-out before it opened. Also in May, ground was broken for a 40,000 square-foot medical office building across Poplar Road from the hospital. Sixty percent of the office space in that building is already leased.