Vote on new 54W light delayed two weeks

Planterra Ridge resident Caren Russell, watched by many of her neighbors in the audience, makes a point about the proposal to link a new shopping center to Planterra Way. Photo/John Munford.

The Peachtree City Council Thursday night postponed its decision on a traffic light application for a new shopping center along the often-clogged corridor of Ga. Highway 54 West at Line Creek Drive.

Also postponed was a decision on a request from the developer of the new Overlook shopping center to allow a link from the parking lot to Planterra Way. Both matters are set to be discussed again at the Feb. 20 council meeting.

The postponement came after input from Trinity Development and several citizens who opposed the link to Planterra due to concerns over cut-through traffic that already plagues the subdivision.

Planterra resident Caren Russell, showing photos of the afternoon traffic backup from Hwy. 54 past the tennis center, suggested the road linkage wouldn’t even work. Councilwoman Kim Learnard said she has witnessed that afternoon traffic mess herself and acknowledged it is “a huge problem” the city needs to address, though Councilman Eric Imker said he hoped motorists’ courtesy would prevail to halt the problem.

As for the traffic light on Hwy. 54 and Line Creek Drive, approval from council would not make it a reality, as the final decision rests with the Georgia Department of Transportation. A traffic study conducted by Trinity showed that the road met the eight-hour volume test indicating that a traffic light is warranted, but the city’s traffic engineering consultant noted that the intersection does not meet the state’s guideline for a minimum distance of 1,000 feet between traffic lights.

City staff acknowledged prior to the meeting that a new traffic light would likely make traffic worse on Hwy. 54 during peak drive times. During those times of day, traffic is so bad it garners an “F” rating, the worst mark on a scale similar to school where an “A” result is best, “B” is still fairly good, and so on.

A new traffic light, if approved, stands to affect not just residents who live in Wilksmoor Village, who rely on the corridor for their only way to and from home, but also businesses off the highway as well.

Trinity representative Jim Lowe said that “national retailers” are already in place for every store on the site plan including a potential restaurant on an outparcel that’s set back from the highway. Those companies want the road link from the parking lot to Planterra Way, Lowe said.

DOT officials are aware of the city’s traffic problems on Hwy. 54 West and are working on a new traffic light management software in hopes of maximizing the efficiency of the existing road. The new system won’t add more capacity in the form of additional lanes to move traffic faster, state officials have cautioned.

The traffic light request may be further complicated by the fact that the high-traffic volume Chick-fil-A restaurant originally planned to be right off the highway at the traffic light is no longer a possibility. This week the chain confirmed it has abandoned the prospect of locating at this site on Ga. Highway 54 West but is looking at other areas to expand its offerings in Peachtree City.

Trinity representatives said Thursday they are hopeful Chick-fil-A is still coming to the site, but even if not, several fast-food chains are interested in that site directly off the highway and next to the RaceTrac convenience store.

Another beef with Trinity’s plan was the elimination of a road connection between The Overlook and the adjacent Shoppes at MacDuff shopping center, which already has a traffic light to reach Hwy. 54 at MacDuff Parkway.

Russell drew applause from the crowd at Thursday’s meeting when she asked for a full public hearing on the road link from The Overlook to Planterra Way. At the meeting, residents speaking against the traffic light or road link were allowed a total of 15 minutes to speak, while a similar amount of time was allotted for any proponents of either measure.

Though the time limit expired for opponents they were allowed to finish airing their thoughts.

Planterra resident Iola Snow said the proposed link to Planterra Way would add more traffic onto Hwy. 54, and she questioned why Trinity no longer planned to link to the Shoppes at MacDuff to give motorists access to the traffic light there.

“I think the cut into Planterra has to go,” Snow said.

Russell noted that more cut-through traffic in Planterra from the shopping center would be concerning, particularly because of the children who live there since there are no sidewalks for them to use.

She also noted that the link from the shopping center to Planterra wouldn’t work during afternoon drive-time traffic due to the existing problem that backs up traffic significantly from the light on Ga. Highway 54.

“Traffic there is at a standstill,” Russell said as she showed photos of what it looked like around 5:30 p.m. last Friday.

dar thompson
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TDK Blvd

The answer to much of this problem would have been TDK Blvd which BTW was something that I pushed for over eight years ago. Just say'n.

Josh Bloom
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Really Dar?

I typically enjoy reading your responses, but this one makes me double think your thought process. You not only want to open the TDK debate up, but you want to argue the side for it. Dar, get with the program, TDK is dead. No way! No how!

dar thompson
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Josh

Thanks for your kind words.

To be clear No I do not want to open the TDK debate up. TDK Blvd is dead and has been dead for almost 8 years. My point was that it made perfect since at the time, the county was even on board. If TDK happened 8 years ago when it was viable to construct...when it made sense...you would not have the Planterra issues nor would you have the traffic issues you currently have at the 74/54 intersection or Hwy 54 (West).

That was all I was saying.

We have to be careful for what we wish for...no elite retail on Hwy 54 West 8 years ago. Citizens have lost 7 or 8 years of taxes dollars to off-set cost to the homeowner.

Now the city will get a red-light and a gas station they swore would never happen.

As I've always said there is no linear thinking.

Robert W. Morgan
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It was the city's first attempt at actual planning

54 west is a mess because for the very first time the city was in charge of creating and implementing the planning for the so-called fifth village. Unlike the rest of the city, there were several different landowners with a questionable mix of commercial and industrial zoning. There was no incentive for any of the landowners to create anything like a master plan - they all just wanted to maximize the value of their particular parcel of land.

Not sure what the very first mistake was (may have been Planterra, The Avenue crammed onto a too-small parcel of land or even Wal Mart) but another early mistake was on the Farr property where he or his agents discovered it was ok to put rental apartments into commercial zoning. From that point on it was zoning and planning by emergency reaction - parcel by parcel.

Real planning would have addressed traffic issues by planning and funding the entire length of a 4-lane McDuff plus the bridge or some other east/west traffic mover whether it be a dedicated lane, a flyover or even TDK extension. No need to debate the merits of each now, because none will ever happen, but the blame is lack of full and proper planning by the city. Pick your target - Lenox, Brown or Lodgsdon - any of their council people or staff - maybe the Planning Commission. Take your pick.

The $800,000 land purchase by the Brown administration for one side of a bridge that was never built deserves honorable mention, but did not contribute to the traffic and vacancy mess.

Spyglass
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Fayette/Coweta need more East West access for sure

Less roads ain't getting it done.

Snow Bunny
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Sorry Dar! The TDK extension

Sorry Dar! The TDK extension was a awful idea back then and still is today!

The only way the TDK extension should ever happen would be as a toll road.