Developer: New Hwy. 54W light necessary ‘to get quality tenants’

Peachtree City Council members (L-R) Eric Imker, Mike King, Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, Terry Ernst and Kim Learnard listen to a presentation about traffic and development on Ga. Highway 54 West. Photo/John Munford.

One of the reasons the Peachtree City Council tabled voting on a request for a new traffic light on Ga. Highway 54 West last week was due to a lack of familiarity with the traffic study presented by Trinity Development.

A vote on the traffic light is slated to happen at the Feb. 20 council meeting, but council did provide some enlightening input on the proposal last week.

Councilwoman Kim Learnard expressed regret about voting against a plan for The Overlook site several years ago which would have provided a much nicer shopping center for the city. Learnard said she voted against it because of the concerns over the traffic light.

“We are also asking ourselves ‘If not this, then what?’” Learnard said. “We forgot to ask ourselves that years ago.”

Trinity representative Jim Lowe said Thursday that national retailers are lined up for each store on the site plan for the 81,000 sq. ft. shopping center, but he declined to publicly reveal which companies had signed on. One is a grocery store, Lowe said.

“We are doing what the city asked us to do: get quality tenants,” Lowe said. “... Our tenants have asked that we have a signal here.”

As for the outparcel along Ga. Highway 54 that was previously considered for a new Chick-fil-A restaurant, Lowe said he was hopeful that Chick-fil-A is still coming to the site, but if not there are several fast food restaurants “lined up” to could go there. A Chick-fil-A representative told The Citizen last week that the company is passing on The Overlook site but is looking at other areas in Peachtree City to open a new location.

Trinity representatives said their traffic analysis shows the traffic volumes on Hwy. 54 show a traffic light is necessary for their development. However, it was pointed out that the proposed light is too close to existing traffic lights, as state regulations require at least 1,000 feet between lights.

Regardless of council’s decision, the final say on the traffic light rests with the Georgia Department of Transportation, officials have said.

Though the matter was ultimately tabled, Councilman Eric Imker said, “It doesn’t make common sense to add another light on 54.”

“There are already too many lights there ... adding another light will make it worse. It just doesn’t make sense,” Imker said.

When MacDuff Parkway is extended to Ga. Highway 74 North, it will alleviate some of the traffic problems on Hwy. 54 West, Imker noted.

New councilman Terry Ernst said he needed more time to study the information before coming to a decision.

“If we say no, the state can still say yes, it is their final decision; that’s also something to think about,” Ernst said.

Mayor Vanessa Fleisch indicated that traffic safety was one of her concerns about the development, as she had already seen some “near misses” at Line Creek Drive and Hwy. 54.

Another factor in play is that the city is expecting soon to have the results of a corridor study conducted along Hwy. 54 from MacDuff Parkway to Willowbend Road. That study is expected to make recommendations on how to improve traffic including extra capacity to handle the sheer volume of cars commuting between Peachtree City and Coweta County.

In addition to the new traffic light on Hwy. 54 at Line Creek Drive, Trinity also wants a road connection through a city greenbelt so The Overlook shopping center can connect to Planterra Way; that connection was also tabled. There was some support on council for making it a left-turn only so the vehicles could not head south through the Planterra Ridge subdivision.

Lowe said the national companies that want to locate at The Overlook have said they need that road connection to Planterra Way.

The connection was opposed by a number of residents due to the problems the Planterra Ridge subdivision already has with cut-through traffic. Those cars back up substantially from the existing traffic light as nearly all are turning left to go towards Coweta County, and it causes delays of up to 10 minutes or more, several residents said.

Adding a new traffic light at Hwy. 54 and Line Creek Drive will only make that tie-up worse, several Planterra residents said.

The latest site plan for The Overlook also eliminated a previously-proposed road connection to The Shoppes at MacDuff, though there was sentiment on council and among the public that such a connection should be part of the plan.

hersch22's picture
Joined: 06/17/2009
1000 Foot Separation Between Lights

It may be a requirement, however it is a weak argument,because the lights from 54/74 to MarketPlace Connector, from MarketPlace Connector to Huddleston, and from Huddleston to Planterra are all less than a 1000 feet from each other. At least according to google maps.

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
"Necessary" Jimbo? I don't think so.

If a traffic light is really "necessary" these mighty fine and wonderful national tenants of yours will find a spot near another traffic light.They can live without you and this parcel. Besides, Trinity, its principal and former partners have done more damage to this city than anyone else (except a couple of mayors) and it is time to stop catering to them. Get off the stage - go away. If a traffic light is necessary - GDOT will tell you. Leave our city council alone.

Now a message to city council. If you really want to solve the traffic problem the development on Mr. Lowe's parcel will create, forget about hooking up with Planterra, forget about a traffic light - simply connect the parcel to the shopping center to the west via. a frontage road on the south side of 54 - could be either in front of or behind Meinike's. That lines up nicely with the traffic light at McDuff where departing shoppers can make a safe left turn and go back to Coweta County or straight ahead north into the new Wieland subdivision and even to 74 after the road is extended and the bridge built at no charge to the city - just kidding about the last part. The free bridge is a pipe dream.

Nevertheless, that frontage road solution was recently applied on a much busier road - Hwy 278 in Hilton Head where a dangerous median cut was closed and a frontage road built (or being built) to the closest traffic light. This is the new exit for shoppers in the Fresh Market Center and everybody there knows it will work. Take a page from some people who really know how to plan. This way the city solves the problem without the stupidity of a new light or the continued kowtowing to this whiny developer. This way the tenants can see the frontage road solution in place before they sign up and all the uncertainty is removed. And certainly the Planterra residents would like this. Even the tenants in that Dollar Store shopping center will like it - a few more cars in their parking lot - good for business. Leadership and creativity - go for it new mayor and city council.

TinCan's picture
Joined: 10/29/2005
Light(s), why not?

Yesterday 15 to 20 minutes from PTC Parkway to Petsmart. Today, five cycles of signals to make a left from 74 to 54 west. What more harm could a light or so cause? Come to think of it, both days were around 1:00PM. Maybe it's only then?

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Who on city council is pushing this crap?

It is not your decision council. It is up to the state. Best you can do is support the "idea" of a light 100% and the state may seriously consider it. Obvious to me 100% support ain't gonna happen - so drop it. Can't imagine the new guys or Erica liking this idea so it must be the ladies pushing it. My advice - stop it and stop it now. This the wrong issue for a new mayor to take up. You can't win, so drop it.

borntorun's picture
Joined: 11/28/2005
Agree RWM

A waste of time and money by The Big Hair Lady and her servants.

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Dismiss the developer and plan something for everyone

I have never understood the desire for city officials to make and alter plans in order to accommodate 1 developer or 1 piece of land. Think about it - that's exactly what they are doing. Trying to alter traffic on the busiest road in town to allow more development. All while the developer is standing there with his attorney lurking in the background waiting on a misstep (visions of the Norwest or Norsouth project are dancing in my head).

Vanessa, please! Get rid of the developer - he is not your friend. Make him go away and then ask the planning staff to propose something like the frontage road I suggested (see above). That actually makes good sense and it is something the city can pursue and coordinate presumably without getting state approval. Yes I know there is some private property involved, but what property owner would stand in the way of having their property becoming more accessible to the highway.

Planning should be done ahead of time in a back room somewhere without the pressure of developer, tenants, state approval and neighbors. Plan something good in private without all the amatuers looking on - then vote on it after a specific idea is aired publicly.