Milestone project approved for I-85/Poplar Rd. interchange

The Coweta County Commission on March 6 helped move the county one step closer to what is planned to be a new interchange along I-85 and Poplar Road. Commissioners approved a required $47,717 value engineering study that must precede the interchange project concept report.

Explaining the value engineering study proposal, Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay said the study is a requirement of both the state and federal governments for any project that exceeds $25 million. The $47,717 price tag that accompanied the project came by way of the Georgia Dept. of Transportation selecting AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, Inc. and informing the county of the selection. Responding to questions from commissioners, Gay said Coweta County had no say in the company’s selection or the price of the project.

The study is essentially the first major milestone for the proposed project, Gay said.

The interchange design as currently conceived would be a full-diamond configuration.

The aim of the value engineering study is to improve project quality, reduce project costs, foster innovation, eliminate unnecessary and costly design elements and ensure efficient investments.
A further federal requirement pertaining to the study requires that it be performed by a multi-disciplinary team of individuals who are not personally involved in the design of the project.

Looking down the road, the passage Tuesday of the continuation of the county’s local 1-cent sales tax (SPLOST) means that up to $15 million of those dollars can go toward the proposed interchange project. The Poplar Road interchange was one of a number of projects that made the SPLOST list.

The interchange project is significant because it is the location of the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital set to open later this year. As with many other metropolitan hospitals, the area around the hospital on Poplar Road will likely see the emergence of other healthcare providers and businesses in the future.

The project is now in the preliminary engineering phase with right-of-way acquisition coming perhaps in 2015 or earlier. If all the local, state and federal funding can be obtained the interchange could be completed as early as 2017.

Commissioner Bob Blackburn prior to the discussion and vote recused himself, saying that he is a one-third owner of a piece of nearby property and has a client that also has property nearby.

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