Let’s examine the real cause of the 54-74 traffic jams


I have to agree with Mr. Lentz and Mr. Imker that the proposed reconfiguration of the Ga. highways 54-74 intersection is a waste of time, money, and resources. They rightfully see that it doesn’t address the root cause of the backup commuters endure on a daily basis.

Let’s flip the calendar back several years and learn from history. Back to the good ole days when hwys. 54 and 74 were both single lane and Frank ‘n’ Fries served those delicious grease-bomb burgers. We didn’t have the backups then.

You could go to Diane’s in Sharpsburg and back for lunch in an hour. Riggins BBQ was less than 10 minutes away. One could actually get to Newnan in about 15 minutes. There was no Westpark Walk, Avenue, or Market Place developments. Hi-Brand Foods occupied the southwest corner where The Avenue sits today. You could smell the aroma of corn dogs cooking while passing by.

As the population grew and more businesses moved into Peachtree City, the traffic increased as expected – but it still flowed. Hwy. 74 was more of a problem, thus four-laned first, and the time to get to the airport was cut in half.

Then the traffic lights popped up between here and the interstate with all the “had-to-have” developments so now it takes just as long and is just as aggravating.

The flow on Hwy. 54 was slow at times but it generally moved without backing up beyond Willow Bend. Then one day another pocket-packing development was completed and a new light installed at The Avenue.

The very day that light went into operation, traffic stacked up in all directions. One would think there was a huge accident on the highway or a terrible snow storm in Coweta, but there wasn’t. It was developer-caused, council-approved chaos. The DOT adjusted this and adjusted that but nothing helped the helpless situation. At one point the brain trust decided to restrict westbound left turns onto Huddleston thinking that would solve the issue.

With The Avenue light so close to the main intersection, there isn’t enough space to stack in the volume of vehicles. With nowhere to go, backups were inevitable. How the all-knowing DOT didn’t see that coming is a mystery to this day. We tried to tell them but they were under developer control with dollar signs in their eyes.

Then it was decided to widen Hwy. 54 to four lanes and the problem would be solved. Well, they did, and it didn’t solve the traffic problem. It doesn’t take a traffic scientist with a Ph.D. in laying asphalt to identify the root problem. All one had to do is endure a few trips through the intersection and it became quite obvious. The traffic light at The Avenue was, and is, the root cause of the backups.

Anyone going east or west must stop to let the shopper moms in and out of The Avenue. While everyone is stopped to let the shoppers out, those wanting to turn east off Hwy. 74 don’t have anywhere to go. The blockage has been further reinforced with the additional lights that have been installed since. Anyone with a functioning brain can see that you can’t have flow with five blockages inside a half mile or so. I guess the good in it all is that we are safe from invasion from the west. Imperial storm troopers couldn’t blast through that mess.

Restricting The Avenue light operation at peak hours would help the situation a ton. No doubt they wouldn’t consider doing that as it would inconvenience the shoppers whose money fills the tax coffers of the county and helps keep our taxes low (sarcasm). And as Mr. Imker points out, people use The Avenue to bypass the main intersection. That action in itself perpetuates the problem as they trigger the light that shuts the door on any flow possible.

Disabling this light during rush hour would stop that and you’d see immediate improvement. Furthermore, you could restrict all traffic lights west of Hwy. 74 during peak hours. People are trying to get to work or home, not shopping. Nobody in their right mind would try to go to Home Depot at 5:30 in the afternoon.

Another solution would be to install a limited access bypass across Line creek with no possible chance of any development whatsoever along its path. Maybe an elevated roadway above Hwy. 54 or a simple ford across Line Creek at the rocks. This would allow through traffic to flow and eliminate the traffic signal bondage we currently suffer.

Yeah, I know, fat chance for either solution.

Unfortunately our past leadership led us to this point where nothing can be done to eliminate the traffic issues. They knew better and did it anyway, so now we are trapped in this quagmire with no way out. The over-development of the Hwy. 54 corridor is almost complete and the jacked-up light at The Overlook is the final nail in the coffin.

Building a new complex intersection isn’t going to solve anything and will just add to the misery. Use the money to fix the shock absorber-destroying dips in Hwy. 74 south of Crosstown.

Unfortunately the only practical alternative is for the people to move to a location such that one doesn’t have to travel that route anymore or find other employment to accomplish the same.

I for one have grown tired of dealing with the traffic, the noise, the deer eating my wife’s plants, not being able to get to Home Depot after work, and the ever-increasing sounds of sirens. What was once a quiet peaceful place has now turned into another noisy, over developed, tangled mass of suburban America.

Jim Blessitt
Peachtree City, Ga.