Brown to press for big fix of Hwy. 74 at I-85 interchange

Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown will ask his fellow commissioners this week to support a resolution advocating a large-scale solution for traffic woes at the interchange of Ga. Highway 74 and Interstate 85.

Brown is slated to plead his case at the monthly workshop meeting of the commission at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the county’s Stonewall government complex in downtown Fayetteville.

One proposal would add looping “cloverleaf” access roads leading from I-85 southbound onto Hwy. 74 southbound, and from I-85 northbound onto Hwy. 74.

A second one would instead create a “diverging diamond” that would flip-flop the northbound and southbound lanes of Hwy. 74 to help rid the intersection of left-turn conflicts that can clog up intersections.

Brown wants a bigger-picture solution, even if funded in a second phase, to include perhaps an additional half-diamond access point on the expressway farther north at Ga. Highway 92 for truck traffic only ... and also an access road parallel to the interstate that would stretch from the Bohannon Road interchange to include the Hwy. 74 and Ga. Highway 138 interchanges too.

Currently Hwy. 92 is just an overpass floating above the interstate, with no ramp access whatsoever. And the final decision on improving access there rests with the Federal Highway Administration.

Fayette County Public Works Director Phil Mallon is hopeful that the benefits of improving safety and commerce will be enough to convince federal officials to approve the Hwy. 92 improvements.

A traffic engineering firm, QK4, has put together the cloverleaf and diverging diamond plans for the interchange, and Brown says that those engineers contend the results would solve the area’s traffic problems.

But Brown notes the plan does nothing to solve tractor-trailer traffic on Oakley Industrial Boulevard, for example. Oakley is the major traffic light immediately prior to the interstate on-ramps for commuters going into Atlanta from the Peachtree City and Tyrone areas.

Also, there is a good bit of land zoned for warehouses in the Fairburn and south Fulton County area, and once the economy ramps back up, so will the semi-trailer traffic, Brown contends. Add that to a proposed Cracker Barrel restaurant and QuickTrip gas station on Hwy. 74 in Fairburn, further stressing traffic in the area with a new traffic light, Brown said.

In other business today, the commission is slated to discuss possible transportation projects for funding with discretionary money from a proposed regional transportation sales tax if it is approved later this summer. Fayette County stands to get an estimated $26.4 million over the 10-year life of the sales tax.

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