Let’s face the truth, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer, you are a burden in the eyes of your local government. They keep raising your taxes and subtracting your ability to participate in your local government. They forget that they work for taxpayers.
The Fleisch and Learnard administrations support a low-budget Highway 74-54 intersection mitigation project proposed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that admittedly will have no effect on the east-west traffic clog (also known as the “core problem”).
Most citizens want a solution, not a Band-Aid
As intelligent and active as our local residents are, the Peachtree City government just does not want to hear what you have to say, and they prove it routinely.
MacKenzie Bianchi who has lived in PTC her whole life motivated me as she raised the questions on Facebook with her post on the choked Highway 74-54 intersection. Her post triggered a very long list of citizen responses who also share Bianchi’s aggravation.
Here is a sample of what your neighbors are saying about the intersection debacle.
Joan Jachino noted, “When we moved here in ‘76, both 54 and 74 were two-lane roads with a stop sign at the intersection. How times have changed!” Indeed, the city government has created most of the problems plaguing the intersection and the 54-west corridor.
Knowing there were significant problems, the city government continued to pack the 54-west corridor with retail development, apartments, and dense housing. Jeff Earls summed it up in one word, “Overdeveloped!”
People are desperate to get something done to resolve the problem. Mari Griffin said, “That intersection has always been an issue…welcome to PTC.” She is right. Can we get someone in elected office who can think broadly enough to generate a real, long-term solution?
Destructive Hwy. 74 South righthand turn lane
Many residents echoed Dennis Brooks point that “the turn lane from Hwy. 74 S to Hwy. 54 W should be controlled by a light. But the entire westbound should be green for longer periods.” Truly, the right-hand turn lane off Highway 74 South is one of the main causes of people getting stuck in the intersection as the traffic signal changes. The jams are a result of a list of poor rezoning and development decisions by the city government.
It’s a frustrating problem when cars block the intersection or “block the box.” Ashley Shoemaker joked, “What, the giant ‘X’ didn’t stop everyone from doing it?!”
Karen Harmon agrees to say, “Well you can get caught in the box if people let others cut in front of them! That is the major problem! They are the ones blocking the center, not us who turned on a green light to go toward Newnan and then people let others in. The police give the ticket to us who turned on the green turn arrow!”
It’s not the fault of the police or the driving public, the local government has done nothing but get an “X” painted on the intersection and pack more retail development on Hwy. 54 West in the last two decades, and the city is forced to take a patrol officer off the beat and park the officer and a vehicle there.
Jonathan Boylan wondered if the cars being ticketed for being caught in the intersection at the light change looked like a cash cow for the city government.
John Dunlap liked the idea of installing traffic cameras at the intersection. “Traffic Cameras would solve two problems. People would quickly learn they can’t do that and the city would get its revenue. Added bonus, we wouldn’t be wasting an officer’s time sitting there,” he said. Several others agreed.
On the Hwy. 74 South turn lane, Rita Hopkins said, “4 words. NO TURN ON RED.”
The low-budget GDOT proposal in the works is just rerouting the two left turn lanes on Hwy. 74 North. The people merging into that traffic heading Hwy. 74 South to Hwy. 54 West will still be a problem. And again, it does absolutely nothing to mitigate the massive congestion moving east-west.
It’s the east-west traffic!
Elizabeth McKay presented her opinion by saying, “The biggest challenge is the sheer volume of traffic that travels east-west every day. The study done 5-6 years ago indicated that within 10 years we would have in excess of 60k commuters through town every day.” She hit the nail on the head. Does anyone really think the GDOT Band-Aid proposal is going to help?
Chris Andreone said MacDuff Parkway was supposed to be a bypass but the speed humps and stop signs keep commuters from using it. Andreone said, “The developer sold the idea of almost 1,000 homes by promising a bypass would help with traffic.” He added, “It was approved quickly by the council because of the added benefit of alleviating the traffic that was starting to grow even back then.”
Joan Neeld said on the MacDuff Parkway issue, “I am waiting for some of the humps to be removed as was stated a long time ago.”
Several people commenting suggested shopping elsewhere. Mary Hooper said, “Shop in Newnan. It’s a lot less stressful.” Brandon Blalock offered, “Shop in Fayetteville.” Crystal Rosenberg agreed, “This is why I never go through that nightmare! Always take the back roads around it! It’s crazy!”
Sharon Cornejo complained about the timing of the traffic signals on Hwy. 54 West.
Laura Landen submitted, “The only solution is an overpass.” As someone who conversed with outside engineers when I was mayor, I agree.
When elected officials are the problem
Allen Williams recommended contacting Mayor Kim Learnard, saying Learnard claimed to have an answer when she campaigned for office. Karen Harmon said she “did contact her [Learnard] and we talked a lot about it but her answer was always turn left on 54 in the left lane so you won’t be caught in the intersection, and she said it was DOTs problem, she couldn’t help with it!”
Channing Medders advised, “Take it to the state. Write your representatives.”
Councilman takes a stand; mayor cuts off opposing views
At the February 16 city council meeting, Councilman Clint Holland became the first council member to publicly denounce the GDOT’s low-budget proposal for the Hwy. 74-54 intersection. Two more votes from Holland’s colleagues and we can begin taking a serious look at implementing a long-term solution.
I invite you to go watch the council meeting video on the city’s website. Mayor Learnard cut Holland off while he was speaking on the intersection, very rude. Learnard has done the same to Councilman Destadio in the past. She does not like opposing views, even from those who were elected to speak on behalf of the citizens.
She will not listen to her constituents and shows little respect for her colleagues. Passing the buck, overestimating her authority, and lacking etiquette appear to be Learnard’s legacy.
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. You can read all his columns by clicking on his photo below.]