DOT hears from residents about 54-74 traffic fix plans

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More than 140 people turned-out in the first hour of the Jan. 23 open house to see plans for the new intersection at Ga. highways 54 and 74, expected to begin construction in 2022 and open in late 2023 or early 2024. Photo/Ben Nelms.
More than 140 people turned-out in the first hour of the Jan. 23 open house to see plans for the new intersection at Ga. highways 54 and 74, expected to begin construction in 2022 and open in late 2023 or early 2024. Photo/Ben Nelms.

A Jan. 23 open house showing plans for the displaced left-turn (DLT) intersection at Ga. highways 54 and 74 was held at the Peachtree City Library and hosted by the Ga. Department of Transportation (DOT). The well-attended meeting came with more than 140 residents attending in the first hour.

The open house came with DOT staff providing information, maps and animation on the new $9.5 million intersection, for which the contract is expected to be awarded in late 2021 and with construction planned to begin in 2022. The intersection work is expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024, DOT said.

The next step in the process is to begin right-of-way acquisition, with DOT noting that none of the commercial properties adjacent to the intersection affected will result in a business being displaced.

The large crowd of people gathered around the maps showing the look of the intersection, and with DOT staff answering questions. Also on display was a large screen showing a new animation of the intersection and the traffic flow through it.

Here’s the video from the DOT:

According to DOT, a displaced left-turn intersection (also known as a continuous-flow intersection) designed for high-capacity intersections redirects left-turning vehicles from the main intersection, allowing them to travel a separate roadway running parallel to the main lanes. Guiding the left-turn traffic onto a separated road segment allows more green time and fewer phases at the main intersection for the through traffic. The left-turns are accommodated in a simpler intersection away from the primary location.

A number of those at the meeting noted their concern that the problem at the intersection is Hwy. 54 which runs east-west. Yet the majority of the intersection improvement, including the displaced left-turn lanes, deals with Hwy. 74.

DOT staff said the back-ups along Hwy. 54 will be decreased with the re-timing of the traffic signals that will increase traffic flow as shorter signal times are implemented.

One resident at the open house said she had experience using one of the two DLT intersections in north metro Atlanta, noting that the intersection works as designed.

Of the many watching the new video animation, a number of them said the design made sense, with others saying they liked it. Still others took a wait-and-see approach to the plan.

Plans for the new intersection were also an agenda topic at the Jan. 16 City Council meeting.

“A displaced left turn [DLT] 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, at the Jan. 16 meeting.

“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.

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.

Public comments on the intersection plan can be submitted through Feb. 6 by using the following methods:

Online at http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGDOT/PublicOutreach, then scrolling down to “Upcoming Public Meetings” or “Recently Held Public Meetings” then selecting “View Info” for PI NO. 0013726 PIOH 1/23/20.

Written comments can be mailed Mr. Eric Duff, Ga. Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree Street NW, 16th Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30308.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The West Park entrance /exit should not be there, that is part of the problem.
    It is very clear that the GDOT people do not understand the problem or do not want to face the complaints of surrounding communities about a bypass.
    Even in a perfect world the proposed “fix” will not work for the simple reason of human behavior. We ALL know what a yellow light means and no its not to speed up through the light to only get stuck in the intersection.
    We all know that we should no be cutting through parking lots to avoid the light at 54 & 74, only to add to the traffic congestion at a different light. By the way BOTH of the above mentioned are violations of the GA traffic code.
    While on the subject of human behavior and being special enough to “skirt” the laws, the number of traffic lights and spacing of traffic lights on HWY 54 west, clear violations of state laws.
    So, in essence we are all responsible for the mess we call ” The HWY 54 HWY 74 traffic issue”.
    Until we look ourselves in the mirror and admit that each and everyone of us are to blame, suck it up cupcake, find a good radio station and enjoy some alone time while sitting in the traffic.
    If you ask any traffic engineer what the problem of the intersection is, they will tell you “easy, the intersection and area were never designed for the volume of traffic that it currently handles”.
    So, we are back to START THE PROCESS OF A BYPASS, before its too late.

  2. The obvious concern is – How do can you improve the eastbound/westbound traffic through the red light district of west 54? I’m not convinced this GADOT proposal adequately addresses that issue.

    Another question is – Will GADOT be fixing the bottleneck related to the SR54 entrance/exit for West Park?

  3. I was there, didn’t hear anyone ask about either of those issues. I think the bottom line is that the DLT will require less time per cycle for 74 NB & SB. This will free up a little time for 52 EB & WB. The traffic lights will continue to slow things down, but they expect 20-30% improvement in wait times overall.
    Bottom line, they’re tinkering with 74 because that’s where they can do it without huge expense & it should help a little.

  4. I was unable to attend the meeting. Did GDOT offer an explanation of what they plan to do with coordinating the lights at Marketplace Blvd (Smokey Bone’s and The Avenue) and Huddleston (Best Buy)? The lack of coordination in those two lights stops more traffic from moving forward on Hwy 54 toward Newnan.

    Also, it appears that the new left turn lane configuration on Hwy 74 North to turn onto Hwy 54 toward Newnan looks like it holds fewer cars than the current two lanes that tend to fill and back-up past Arby’s. How is this new, single lane supposed to efficiently had what was previously two turn lanes?

    Did anyone hear an explanation on those two points?