Future of 54-74 intersection: Interview with GDOT traffic engineer

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I offer this interview with one proviso: I hold the Georgia Department of Transportation harmless when it comes to creating the traffic nightmare we have along the State Route 54-West corridor.

The debacle we experience daily in that corridor falls squarely upon the shoulders of the past city councils of Peachtree City. Careless and thoughtless decisions of elected officials compounded upon one another created the traffic fiasco. GDOT is called to help clean up the mess.

Whether GDOT chose the right project (they had a small budget to work with) is debatable, and I am sure we will keep debating it.

I had a brief interview with Daniel Trevorrow, GDOT’s District 3 Traffic Engineer, on their project for the State Routes 54 and 74 intersection [after the Town Hall meeting April 16]. Trevorrow was right to point out that any of the benefits from their current project are primarily with the intersection proper (like fewer signal movements and not blocking the box), not the corridor between the intersection and the Coweta County line.

Interview

Steve Brown: This project was budget-constrained because it was in that federal allotment [that the state received from the federal government]. Did that have any bearing on doing the project you’re doing now as opposed to doing something that might be a little more hefty in terms of moving traffic?

Trevorrow: I wouldn’t say so. I would say the original cost estimate on this was, actually, quite considerably lower. Inflation certainly, you know, raised the cost of this quite considerably so that the fact that the program has honored its commitment from ‘X number’ of years ago is fantastic. And I would say that the anticipated benefit of this is certainly hefty, and so that that that kind of costs associated with an overpass would be substantially even more so any kind of cost restraint would certainly be felt with anything more impactful.

Brown: And now we have that cosmic physics question “How much flour can you put in a 5 lb. bag?” And, of course, volume is the issue here with East-West traffic flow.

Trevorrow: Sure.

Brown: That [traffic volume] doesn’t change at all. That’s only getting bigger.

Trevorrow: right.

Brown: And especially as they do more commercial development on the Coweta County side is this going to grind to a halt just based on volume or can you move the traffic down that 54 West corridor to the Coweta County line efficiently? I mean I understand this clears the box and that’s a problem, but will the volume overwhelm your ability to move the traffic?

Trevorrow: Well, it really is a repeat of this town hall meeting, this project is intended as an intersection treatment. It certainly will not be the silver bullet for all of Peachtree City, Fayette, or Coweta Counties’ traffic congestion issues. In a previous analysis done a few years ago, we were anticipating that this benefit, the congestion relief, will give us probably about 10-15 years or so before you start seeing the same level of congestion [at the intersection specifically] that you see now, and so we do think that some of the neighboring projects that we have at Marketplace Blvd. and Peachtree City has at Huddleston [Road] combined with 54 and 74 [intersection] will give you an improvement, but there will certainly be a need in the future but broader projects. Peachtree City and Fayette County are part of the Atlanta metropolitan regional planning, ARC [Atlanta Regional Commission], and so there’s certainly plenty of opportunities that other jurisdictions don’t have to solicit funds for much bigger projects.

Brown: So, what’s your anticipated level of service on the 54 West corridor once the intersection improvement is constructed?

Trevorrow: So, currently the intersection itself is an “F” which is way down there at the bottom.

Brown: Maybe even lower if the scale would go lower.

Trevorrow: Well, I’d say once you get past the point it becomes redundant. I want to say the LOS [level of service projection] expected at 74-54 [intersection], for itself, would be an “E,” still heavy but it’s definitely a bracket up. I couldn’t speak to the [54 West] corridor itself. I’m afraid I don’t have those numbers.

Brown: Are you aware of the history that the last time GDOT ran the fiber optic lines, but the last time they tried to alter traffic [changing traffic signal timing], giving priority to the thoroughfare and taking it away from the shopping centers, that Home Depot corporate office, Walmart corporate office, and the Avenues called Governor Perdue, and four days later it was put back to where it was?

Trevorrow: I can’t speak to that, I’m afraid.

Brown: Are you going to give priority to the thoroughfare and take it away from the shopping centers?

Trevorrow: So, during peak periods when the thoroughfare is most heaviest there will be some level of priority given because we are inherently have to, but it will not be given to the point of no one from the side roads can get out, but as a repeat of what I said before when you have that many access points [side roads and curb cuts] that are also that heavy, that close together, it is very difficult to give any direction ultimate priority.

Brown: I’m assuming the GDOT had some conversations with the Best Buy and the PetSmart that’s going to lose a significant access point, [eliminating the crossing] the highway from Huddleston [Road]. What’s their view on that?

Trevorrow: Well, I’ll answer that by saying that’s a Peachtree City led project, so GDOT has only been communicating with Peachtree City. You’ll need to ask them about coordination with the local stakeholders.

[At this point, the GDOT press liaison dragged him away.]

[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.]

4 COMMENTS

  1. I was impressed with Trevorrow at the meeting and thanks Steve for interviewing him. I think he gave straight answers. We all know the Displaced Left turn lane is not a cure for the congestion at that intersection but it should help. The sad part to me is that there are no alternative ‘big projects’ that I’m aware of in the near term to reroute traffic away from that intersection i.e., reduce volume.

  2. You put all new retail development in a few mile stretch adding a new traffic light to access each new shopping complex you kill thru traffic. Only solution is to take the thru traffic out of the mix and reroute it away from the retail access points. There is no way to time lights and reverse diamond to allow retail and thru traffic to coexist.