TDK: 2 or 4 lanes, trafficwill still be horrendous

Tue, 03/06/2007 - 5:53pm
By: The Citizen

I was at a dinner party Saturday in Lawrenceville. Most of the 30 people in attendance were long-time residents of Gwinnett County.

Each of them complained about how bad crime and their traffic has become. Their elected officials opted for another shopping mall and more “big box” power centers in the area several years ago. Then County Commission Chairman Wayne Hill promised the residents that the economic benefits of building the shopping on steroids would propel them to greatness. Instead, all of their negative indicators are shooting upwards, especially traffic congestion.

Now Gwinnett is rushing to pull out of the riptide of false prosperity. They are initiating a program starting at tens of millions of dollars to reverse, in their words, “emerging blight and poverty” and a “declining tax base and falling wages.”

No, Peachtree City and Fayette County, big box stores are not a panacea or quick fix for budgetary woes. Each big box comes with a significant price and that price is greater than tax revenue. If you want to protect the traffic capacity on Georgia Highway 54 and our quality of life, do not allow more traffic hoarding big box stores in the city. It is not hard to figure out.

Switching gears, was anybody really surprised to read the headline, “PTC Council’s new traffic plan already obsolete,” (The Citizen, Feb. 21, 2007)? For the life of me, I will never understand why the former PTC mayors rallied behind an unfair and problematic SPLOST plan that, without doubt, fails to address serious traffic problems in PTC’s future.

A Dames & Moore study showed significant problems ahead with the intersection of Ga. highways 74 and 54 back in 2000, years before the TDK development situation surfaced. The “SPLOST at any cost” backers cannot plead ignorance. The new state SPLOST law with bipartisan support in the legislature should have been honored, and PTC should have received an additional $34 million.

The fact that Mayor Logsdon is still trying to convince everyone that the TDK Extension is going to help PTC/Fayette County is senseless. Please note, the traffic data WITHOUT TDK and the accompanying development are horrendous, so explain to us how tens of thousands more cars make things better.

The large pavilion-style shopping center proposed for the Coweta side of TDK will bleed Peachtree City and Fayette County of millions in sales taxes annually and cause traffic back-ups. The shopping giant is solely dependent upon direct access to Hwy. 74, and it goes away without it.

That is why the developer is willing to foot the bill for the four-lane bridge — which would be needed — to Hwy. 74.

Mayor Logsdon made the following comments in an editorial he wrote in The Citizen in February: “I stressed that my position was two lanes or no lanes — anything more will bring too much traffic to Hwy. 74.” “It will help employees reach our industrial park.” “I also think it is important to have an alternate route as the surrounding areas (Fayette and Coweta) grow so that Hwy. 54 does not become gridlocked. A two-lane road will accomplish this without overburdening Hwy. 74.”

Those ill-advised statements from the mayor show a real lack of intelligent thought on traffic planning and development forecasting. We know the situation is bad because we have the traffic data and the numbers [are] bad. It is so bad that the transportation plans without the TDK projections are obsolete.

There is a genuine reason GRTA says PTC will have to spend a massive amount of cash to mitigate the impact of the TDK Extension (most of which is not included in the SPLOST). GRTA is not being evil; they are being realistic.

No matter how many lanes you build the TDK Extension, the amount of traffic the development on the Coweta side generates stays the same. The mayor saying two lanes means less traffic on Hwy. 74 makes absolutely no sense.

If you are going to drain a container holding 50 gallons of fluid, it doesn’t matter whether you use a half-inch hose or a one-inch hose, you will still release 50 gallons of fluid either way. A knowledgeable prediction is the smaller hose will drain the fluid at a slower rate.

If you substitute cars for fluid in this example, we will have more traffic congestion with the smaller channel. So the mayor wants the two-lane, more-traffic congestion model.

Now how can you realistically use a heavily congested two-lane road as a short-cut for the workforce living in Coweta? Since the traffic volume remains the same on the Coweta side, how will TDK not “over-burden” Hwy. 74?

Most importantly, the mayor has no plan on how we are going to mitigate the negative impacts of the traffic from TDK on our other roads and intersections. There are no funds in the SPLOST to accomplish the needed improvements.

Someone on the City Council needs to step up and create a diplomatic process where we can discuss the future negative impacts of uncontrolled growth with the Coweta governments. Placating the Coweta County Commission with the construction of the TDK Extension only emboldens them to continue reckless development patterns which will cause disastrous infrastructure problems for us all.

Developer funding of campaigns and catering to special interests is getting in the way of sound, rational decision making. Do not build TDK.

Steve Brown

Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown served one term as Peachtree City’s mayor before being defeated in 2005 by current Mayor Harold Logsdon.]

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