Changes have been made to two proposed road projects in response to public outcry.
Tuesday night, the Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted to make changes to the proposed improvement project on Sullivan Road and the intersection improvement at Smokey, Belk and Old Corinth Roads.
At a public information open house June 27, 136 people turned out and many expressed concerns about the potential loss of trees along the roadway. The trees provide screening for many homes along Sullivan and in the subdivisions that back up to the road.
The plan was to widen the travel lanes, which are currently nine feet each, to 12 feet, and build a sidewalk on one side. A roundabout was proposed to replace the four-way stop at Clubview Drive and Woodlake Drive.
The comments from the open house were reviewed. Many were about traffic concerns on Hwy. 34 and Lower Fayetteville Road, said Tod Handley, Coweta’s director of transportation and engineering. There were 16 comments that were expressly in favor of the proposed project, while many of those commenting said they wanted the road improved but had concerns. Some said they would like the county to plant a new buffer or build a berm to make up for trees that had to be removed.
Commissioner Rodney Brooks asked Handley if he thought that the opening of the Poplar Road interchange on Interstate 85 would help traffic on Sullivan.
A lot of the traffic on Sullivan is cut-through traffic between Hwy. 34 and Lower Fayetteville, and many use it and Baker Road to access I-85 at Exit 51. “We’re not sure to what degree the Poplar Road interchange will have an effect on Sullivan itself,” Handley said.
There are some areas that are a little wider than others, Handley said, and going with 11-foot lanes instead of 12 would probably be safe. The original plan was to have 11-foot lanes.
Commissioner Tim Lassetter asked if there could be some improvements made in the worst spots “while we’re determining what to do and whether the Poplar Road interchange would have much effect on this.”
Brooks, who represents the area, said he’d like to see 11-foot lanes, and keep the four-way stop. And possibly do away with the sidewalk. He also suggested doing the work in-house instead of contracting it out so that the county would have more control over tree clearing.
George Keller said something has to be done with the road, but he doesn’t think there needs to be a sidewalk.
If the county is going to do the work, do it right the first time, said Bill Griggers. There is a hill that needs to be taken down about three feet to improve safety, he said.
“Don’t be short on the cost. Just make sure it’s done right,” Griggers said. “The taxpayers are going to pay for it one way or the other.”
“The only way to do this is to do it right,” said Wendell Morgan, who said he is in favor of the roundabout and the sidewalk.
After more discussion, Brooks made a motion to contract out the project with 11-foot lanes and no sidewalks, and to have contractors bid on both keeping the four-way stop and building the roundabout.
Later in the meeting the commissioners approved additional engineering work for the Smokey Road intersections. The plan is to reroute Old Corinth Road so it will intersect with Smokey Road on the other side of the former Hoop’s sports bar building.
In June, several residents in the area appeared before the commissioners to express concerns about the property they would lose for the intersection projects. A public information open house on that project was held in early 2014, but the residents who spoke in June said they didn’t know about that meeting.
The commissioners directed county staff to look into making some changes to soften the blow.
Tuesday night, there were two proposals for additional engineering work.
One would switch a portion of the project to curb and gutter instead of ditch and shoulder design, and narrow some ditches. That engineering work will cost $5,600.
The other change will save nearly all of Chuck and Karen Bryan’s front yard. The original plan called for taking a front yard strip in an arc ranging from 10 feet wide on one side to 20 feet in the middle to 40 feet on the other side.
The Bryans asked why the road couldn’t be shifted to the vacant land across the street.
Associate County Administrator Eddie Whitlock met with the Bryans. “He asked us what we want. We said you can easily go across the street,” Chuck Bryan said.
And that’s the new plan – a “reverse curve” that will move the road closer to the vacant land. The engineering for that new section will cost $17,330.
Now, the Bryans will only lose a corner of their property.
“It’s a huge difference,” Bryan said. “Instead of taking close to a third of our front yard, they’re taking about one-tenth,” he said. “I have nothing but praise for Mr. Whitlock.”
“I am so glad that they agreed to work with us. My wife and I are really very happy.”