Tuesday was a tough day for traffic in Newnan.
Higher volumes of traffic along Hwy. 34 and in two local subdivisions have been caused by the closure of a portion of Lower Fayetteville Road for the past week.
On Tuesday, however, there were backups on Interstate 85 because of rolling lane closures related to construction on the Poplar Road interchange, and many motorists likely detoured around that traffic by taking Hwy. 34 and U.S. 29 through downtown Newnan. And, thousands of vehicles rolled through town on Ga. Hwy. 16 and the 34 Bypass as part of the Hot Rod Power Tour.
The contractor on the Poplar project was setting beams over the southbound lanes at the bridge, according to Coweta Public Works Director Tod Handley. Work began Monday and was scheduled to wrap up Tuesday.
The increased traffic because of the Lower Fayetteville closure, however, will last three more weeks. The road is closed between Summerlin Boulevard and the Newnan Centre. The closure, to allow for construction of a tunnel under the road, is set to last 30 days and began on June 4. The tunnel will be for the LINC, a multi-use trail system.
The official detour is Newnan Crossing Boulevard, Bullsboro/Hwy. 34 and Shenandoah Boulevard. Poplar and Mary Freeman roads are also an option.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has a consultant who works on signal timing, and he is monitoring and adjusting the timing on Hwy. 34 as best he can during the closure, said Newnan Public Works Director Michael Klahr.
However, because of the high traffic volumes, there is not much he can do without affecting the intersecting streets, Klahr said.
An NTH reader reported late last week that traffic turning left from the Hwy. 34 Bypass onto Bullsboro Drive, heading toward the interstate, was backing up into the intersection, blocking traffic.
“I think that is just volume. I think we are at a saturation point,” Klahr said. A local traffic engineer who does work for the city also keeps an eye on the signal timing.
GDOT’s consultant “can only tweak,” Klahr said. “He can’t do miracles.”
Some motorists are disregarding the official detour and instead cutting through subdivisions.
The city placed signs saying “local traffic only” in those subdivisions, but some are disregarding it.
One woman who lives on a road being used as a cut-through said the increased traffic is awful. People are driving much too fast, as well.
Her house is very close to the street. “You can imagine the constant noise,” she said.
The higher volumes make it difficult to back out of her driveway. “You have to be very careful when you get your mail. It is a major nuisance,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. She’s also worried about children playing in the area, especially a playground along the route people are using to cut through her subdivision.
The Newnan Police Department is concentrating on the subdivisions with extensive traffic enforcement, said Chief Douglas “Buster” Meadows. The department has also set up its speed trailer, which informs people of how fast they are going, and records speed data.
The data from the trailer tells the NPD when the bulk of the traffic is coming through the area, and what speeds motorists are going.
The residential streets aren’t used to high traffic volumes, and there are often cars parked on the side of the street.
“More traffic creates more chances for an accident to happen in a confined area,” Meadows said. “You never know when somebody or some animal may dart out in front of you."
“We’re asking people to stick to the detour routes and to not increase the traffic in the neighborhoods, for safety reasons,” Meadows said. “Bear with us. Hopefully we’ll have Lower Fayetteville Road back open on time.”