Sunday, December 9, 2001

Design of Hwy. 54 widening includes room for growth


When Ga. Highway 54 west in Peachtree City is widened to four lanes, state transportation officials expect to have traffic volumes as high as 42,000 cars a day.

But 20 years down the road, that number could skyrocket to 66,000 cars, at least according to current projections.

And that's why the road widening project was designed with a 44-foot grassy median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic, said Jim Kennerly, an engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The idea is that if the road needs two more lanes in the future, the DOT could pave over the median area instead of having to acquire more land.

The bridges have also been "future-proofed" for the eventual widening to six lanes. The current design on widening the bridges over the railroad tracks and Line Creek would leave enough room to add two more lanes of traffic, Kennerly added.

"If traffic continues to grow at this rate," Kennerly said, the widening to six lanes would almost be necessary. But the highway can't be widened to six lanes now due to the air quality restrictions on metro Atlanta, he added.

The grassy median also adds a safety element for motorists traveling on the road, Kennerly said.

The widening project also includes curbs, gutters and sidewalks to the north and south of the highway, Kennerly added. It also includes culverts under the highway at the railroad bridge which will be used for the new "cloverleaf" cart path bridge that will connect both sides of the highway to the rest of the city's cart path system through The Avenue and Marketplace retail centers.

Preliminary engineering on the project has been completed, and now right of way acquisition is underway, Kennerly said. The DOT will have to acquire 50 parcels before it can advertise for bids on the project.

The project is likely to be complete in late 2004 or early 2005, Kennerly said.

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