Construction not expected to be complete until well into 2023 —
Engineers for the Georgia Department of Transportation told the Peachtree City Council Jan. 16 that the $9 million construction project to improve the traffic-choked intersection of Ga. highways 54 and 74 won’t start until after November of next year and that the work won’t be finished for another two years after that.
In addition, the engineers told TheCitizen.com after the meeting that no plans exist that would entail tearing down any buildings at the intersection. More on that later in the story.
“A displaced left turn intersection allows more green [light] time at the main intersection by actually separating the left turns that are approaching the intersection from the main intersection,” according to Keith Strickland, senior transportation engineer consulting with the DOT on the project.
“What actually happens is that a new intersection is constructed approximately 400 to 500 feet in advance of the main intersection to allow left turns to cross over the [new] intersection in the opposite direction so that when they get to the main intersection there’s no competition from the through traffic,” Strickland said.
In the proposed design, “only left turns from Hwy. 74 will be in a DLT pattern,” a DOT information slide said. “Traffic patterns for those coming from Hwy. 54 will not change.”
In the plan shown Jan. 16, the only new left turn lanes will be on the southbound lanes of Hwy. 74 to get that traffic onto Hwy. 54 eastbound and on the northbound lanes of Hwy. 74 to get traffic onto Hwy. 54 westbound.
There will be one additional right turn lane on Hwy. 54 that will affect the current east side entrance to The Avenue, restricting it to right-in from westbound traffic only and right-out only. (See graphics below.)
The change will put two new traffic signals for the new DLTs on Hwy. 74 — one in the northbound lane in front of Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurant and the other in the southbound lane at the east side entrance into The Avenue.
New lanes carrying the left turn traffic will be built parallel to the west side of WestPark Walk and the east side of The Avenue.
Another addition to improve traffic flow will be a continuous flow right turn from Hwy. 74 South onto Hwy. 54 West. DOT plans to build an added lane extending to the next traffic signal just before the railroad crossing bridge. No longer will right-turning traffic have to stop to merge into the westbound lane, Strickland said.
Even though the DLTs will be only on Hwy. 74, Strickland said, Hwy. 54 east- and westbound traffic will be improved, especially since the cycle times between green lights will be reduced.
“That light is controlling all the cycles and timing on all the other traffic signals up and down Hwy. 54,” Strickland said.
The innovation will join only about 60 DLTs in the world, including two already functioning on the north side of Atlanta, the engineer said.
Comparable DLTs reduce crashes and improve travel times through the intersection, Strickland said.
A more extended preview of the DLT future will be available at the DOT information open house this Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room of the Peachtree City Library. You may come in at any time during the 2-hour period, view exhibits and talk to DOT personnel and ask questions.
TheCitizen.com got in some questions and received answers from Strickland and Randall J. Blair, assistant project manager, before they left the council cambers last Thursday.
TheCitizen.com asked Blair about the effect of the construction on nearby businesses at the 54-74 intersection.
Question: Do you have all the right of way that you need already?
Answer: No. That will be at the public meeting. We’ll have maps that will show exactly where we need right of way, where we’ll need permanent easements to build the project.
Q.: Is it going to take some businesses that are now in Westpark Walk or in The Avenue?
A.: We’ve completed the preliminary design stage. We can’t promise that nothing is going to change. But at this point, we have a general idea, and a footprint of the project, so at this time, there won’t be any condemnations or takings.
Q.: So some business is not going to get torn down because of this — on any side of that project?
A.: It is not in the plan.