54-74 traffic improvements still nearly 2 years away from starting

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DOT graphic showing the two planned displaced left turns at the 54-74 intersection. Photo/Cal Beverly.
DOT graphic showing the two planned displaced left turns at the 54-74 intersection. Photo/Cal Beverly.

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.

<b>DOT consulting engineer Keith Strickland. Photo/Cal Beverly.</b>
DOT consulting engineer Keith Strickland. Photo/Cal Beverly.

“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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. After reviewing the proposed “DLT” project by GDOT, both here in the article and at the Public Information Open House, it’s clear that this is a band aid of sorts to relieve the traffic flow problems … entering the intersection of 74 & 54.

    The project addresses the traffic flow problems outside the intersection (minimally,) but it doesn’t solve things entirely. The major problem of course is west of the intersection (on Rt. 54) and to a lesser degree, the traffic flow in and out of Westpark Walk (on Rt. 54), east of the intersection.

    I agree with some of the comments below on solutions and of course there are additional ones as well. As we are now entering the GDOT “10-day public comment period” my recommendation is to follow up / comment on the project and speak to whether this is the “full solution” to the problem or not.

    Go to … http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGDOT/PublicOutreach
    Scroll to “Recently Held Meetings” 1/23/2020 and comment!

  2. I attended the event a the library this evening. A few things:

    They are not going to reduce the number of lanes on 74.

    They are tweaking 74 instead of 54 because they have the room to maneuver and it’s much cheaper.

    They’ve built 2 of these DLT intersections in Ga.

  3. There is an easy no cost test to see what the real problem is (Not the HWY 54 HWY 74 intersection).
    The test is simple: For a Five (5) day period between the hours of 3 P.M. and 7 P.M. (only 4 hours) , take ALL of the traffic lights WEST of the HWY 54 and HWY 74 intersection and turn them to GREEN THE ENTIRE 4 HOURS!
    Thats right, Market Place, Huddleston, Planterra, Line Creek and MacDuff, make them a constant GREEN for the East/West traffic. Anyone needing to make a left simply makes a right and the a U-turn at the next intersection. Just give it a try and see what happens.
    I think you will see that maybe, just maybe its NOT the HWY 54 and HWY 74 intersection after all!
    I know, I know, it can’t be done because millions of dollars have not been wasted and it has not been approved by an engineer.
    This might just prove that a bypass is indeed long overdue for this area.
    It’s time to take a regional look to fix a regional problem instead of looking to PTC to fix it on its own.
    If i remember correctly, wasn’t it engineers who said adding a light at Line Creek would not increase traffic issues?
    Many people for many years have been saying a bypass is needed, time (and space) is running out.
    Either that or just have the state or city by all the houses in Planterra and make it a Highway, kind of like what is already happening there between the hours of 4:30 and 6:00.

  4. It is a beautiful plan.
    The fear of course is that the the problem is not at the 74 54 intersection. No. Not at all.

    The problem is west on 54. All of the backup occurs on the segment from the county line to the 74 54 intersection.

    The fix? Go to 3 lanes in each direction on that segment. Aerials will show it. Too many lights on too short a segment.

    Proposal ? Eliminate left hand turns on the segment. Put in the, some might say, awful, Michigan left. All right turns with U turn at designated locations to smooth flow and allow for light synchronization. Fewer lights with fewer left turn will simplify the problem of light synchronization.

    Meantime, there is no constraint to go ahead and do a traffic study and do the light sync facing the current situation. GO ahead and do a real synch.

    Also there are simulation tools that will allow the state to figure out what are the right settings ahead of time.

    • That’s what I’ve been saying for a while. Doesn’t help to add traffic to 54 more quickly. It might help to remove traffic from 54 more quickly in both directions and especially during rush hour.

      The 5 day test is the way to go. Need a leader or two on city council to emerge and champion this. After all, they require developers to do traffic studies all the time so they must have some belief in that process.

      The irony here is that I know they are going to do this anyway. After the $9million is spent and the traffic on 54 remains the same, somebody will say “hey, let’s make those lights green during rush hour”. And that may actually work. I’d prefer the experiment or test be conducted before the $9million (which will be $15million) is spent, but what do I know – I’m not a traffic engineer or a politician.

  5. My guess is that they are going to move lanes on 74 instead of 54 because that’s where they have room to do something. If you can clear the left turn lanes on 74 faster that will allow more green light time on 54, but this doesn’t seem like a big help, I doubt if this is worth going through the construction pains. I doubt they’re going to cut 74 down to one through lane, that’s probably just a general illustration.

    • Yes they are indeed proposing only one lane for thru traffic. I couldn’t believe that either so I asked. Answer: Only need one lane because it will have a green light most of the time and the cars turning right or left will be separated from the thru traffic earlier. OK, that’s not much of an explanation but the answer is clear – 1 thru lane. Very odd.

      And you are probably right that the Right of Way is wider on 74 than it is on 54, so they figure on trying it there first without the expense and drama of acquiring/condeming adjacent land. To me a $9million experiment on a road that needs less help than the other with those traffic lights by Best Buy, Planterra and beyond slowing the traffic that just got thru the fancy intersection more quickly is not going to succeed.

      Once again, if they want to have an experiment do this – Green only lights on 54 during AM and PM rush hours. Businesses may have to take an afternoon siesta from 4-6PM and that’s an inconvenience, but at least its a cheaper experiment and correctible if it fails.

  6. Not one is using the common sense, peoples coming by 74 hwy north and south get stuck trying to get on 54 hwy north, peoples coming from Fayetteville on 54 hwy get stuck at 74 intersection trying to go to Newnan direction, on the other side, peoples coming from Newnan on 54 hwy get stuck at MacDuff Pkwy, so it is simple, the problem is 54 hwy between MacDuff Pkwy and 74 hwy, and if we remember back on time, the problem got SOOOO !!! much worse when they added the light at the Race Trac gas station, not matter what you do at the 54 and 74 hwy intersetcion, if you not solve the problem from MacDuff and 74, never you are going to get it fixed, simple, 6 !!! lights not synchronized in 3/4 mile on a busy HWY !!!, and this peoples are wasting our taxes making their self more money than many of us drawing fancy things ????

  7. If I am correct the Nimrods at the DOT are proposig to reduce the number of through lanes going north and south to one land. Do they really think that this will solve anything other than increase congestion for vehicles traveling north and south and not turning.

  8. Wait a minute – WHAT? Now they have the fancy left turn lane on Hwy 74 only Not Hwy 54? Have you guys spent any quality time here during rush hour?

    This article says the new left lanes move traffic quickly off 74 and put it onto 54. Huh? That’s not solving the problem Keith and Randall. If anything it makes it worse. The problem is too much traffic on 54. Your $9million solution puts more traffic on 54 more quickly. That doesn’t make sense.

    All along I thought the new left turn lanes would be on 54 – the idea being to get the traffic OFF OF 54 and move it somewhere else more quickly. Assuming that I thought it could actually work if we disabled or removed the traffic lights on 54 west. But putting more traffic more quickly onto 54? I don’t think so.

    Now I hear they have it exactly backwards for a mere $9million. Sadly, I am hearing “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”