PTC deadlocks on appeal to sack new 54W light

In a bid to keep the afternoon traffic logjam on Ga. Highway 54 West in Peachtree City from getting worse, City Councilman George Dienhart made a bold proposal at Thursday night’s council meeting, though it ultimately got caught in a 2-2 gridlock of its own.

Dienhart suggested petitioning the Georgia Department of Transportation to eliminate an existing median cut on the road at the intersection of Line Creek Drive, which in turn would sack the need for a sixth stop light on that 1.5 mile stretch of road between Hwy. 74 and the county line.

The traffic light is coveted by the developer of The Overlook shopping center, which has begun with a RaceTrac gas station directly off the highway next to a proposed Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Dienhart argued that the City Council owed it to citizens to prevent traffic from getting even worse with the addition of a sixth traffic light in the area. Dienhart said he has gotten a significant amount of constituent feedback on the matter and he felt it was time for council to take a stand.

“We must take into account what is best for this city,” Dienhart said. “Worsening the city’s primary traffic chokepoint is not best for business or residents.”

While Mayor Don Haddix agreed, the matter fell into a deadlock with Council Members Kim Learnard and Eric Imker favoring a “wait and see” approach with a potential new development plan for The Overlook.

Learnard said she preferred to work with the developer since residents were upset with the current approved plan for the shopping center. Imker said he wanted to avoid getting the city into a lawsuit, despite legal advice from City Attorney Ted Meeker that indicated the city could not be held liable for what would, ultimately, be the decision of the Georgia DOT.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch was out of town due to a death in her husband’s family, and Dienhart said he intended to bring the matter back up at another council meeting in the hopes of getting her opinion on the matter.

Haddix noted that while several years ago DOT approved a permit to allow the traffic light for Line Creek Drive, DOT later withdrew it as the original proposal for a shopping center on the site failed.
Learnard said she agreed council needed to protect its citizens, but she feels the best way is to find common ground with the developer, Trinity Development.

Imker said he felt a future city council could decide to favor the median cut, and he felt it was best to vet the developer’s latest proposal, “and we can make a decision at that time.” Imker added that he felt the city could be held liable in court for potentially reducing the developer’s “revenue by curtailing traffic flow.”

Learnard and Imker said they did not like the possibility of a road connection linking The Overlook to Planterra Way, but they stopped short of saying they would completely toss out the idea, for now at least. Dienhart and Haddix favor putting a halt to that road connection.

Residents in the Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park subdivisions have argued that the road connection to Planterra Way would subject their neighborhoods to even more cut-through traffic.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Line Creek

This is like reliving 2008 and 2009 in many ways.

First of all, it is far more than a light. The developer wants a connection to MacDuff Crossings for access to that traffic light, a new light on 54 at the existing median cut and a connection to Planterra Way across from the entry to the Tennis Center.

The light was approved in 2009. About 2 years later GDOT contacted me to ask if I wanted the permit cancelled. I said, "Yes" and it was cancelled.

The closing of the median cut was proposed in 2008 but rejected 3-2. The light was granted 3-2 in 2009. The connection to Planterra Way was rejected, I believe on a 5-0, in 2008.

The 2001 54W Master Plan calls for a South Secondary Road like the North one in the RAM Properties. There is in fact room and the space between the Tennis Center and 54 is for that road. It is supposed to run from Huddleston to MacDuff.

A connection to MacDuff makes sense and would enhance the Line Creek Nature Area access. A connection, as wanted, to Planterra Ways would not allow for a Secondary Road, if warranted in the future, and would add a lot of traffic to Planterra Way. The traffic light is still a terrible idea. We already have, in example, traffic backing up to the Wyndham Conference Center at certain times of the day.

Even now we suffer from gridlock on 54 at certain times of the day. I proposed to GDOT to make Fischer Road an access to 85. There is an existing road under 85 that would only require one north and one south ramp to be added. They like the idea and said it should be done. They agree it would stop a lot of Coweta traffic from coming through PTC, being on 74 and using 74/85.

As for Councilman Imker's concerns, GDOT made it clear the permit has to be submitted by PTC, not the developer, in 2008. Also, the City Attorney and I both told him we have no legal obligation to enhance the value of developer's property or grant a light.

In 2009 Candidate Fleisch called the light a really bad idea. We do not know where she is today. Candidate Imker said, "...no idiotic traffic lights where there is nothing to gain except worse traffic for everyone,..." Citizen Kim Learnard said the proposal was the best we could get in 2008. Then in 2009 as a Candidate she was opposed. You see where she is today.

I hope this helps fill in missing details and paints a picture of the situation as a whole.

On May 9th this will be back on the Agenda. When it tied 2-2 I told Councilman Dienhart he could wait for the proposal to come before Council or bring his Agenda Item it back on May 9th when Councilwoman Fleisch should be back. He chose to bring it back.

EDITED TO ADD Seeing certain comments elsewhere it needs to be understood GDOT will not close or open a median or curb cut nor add or remove a traffic light without a majority vote from Council. If a Mayor could do this on his own that median would have been closed a long time ago.

NUK_1
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Enough of Imker already

"Imker added that he felt the city could be held liable in court for potentially reducing the developer’s “revenue by curtailing traffic flow.”

I think there is a better chance of the city being held liable for you being a buffoon. Where do you come up with this crap?

borntorun
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Agree NUK_1 About Imker

It is a sad sad state of affairs when Imker is considered the budget guru on the City Clown Council. I truly hope the voters sweep this entire group of idiots out of office when their term is up.

Larry.Sussberg
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Highway 54 West & Traffic Light

Another traffic light on 54 will hurt the retailers and other businesses in those centers.

There needs to be an access road not a traffic light!

GeorgeDienhart
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Larry, I spent the weekend

talking to people over there- you are not alone in your concerns. We cannot allow this intersection to become an even bigger mess. There is no need to add additional minutes, frustration, and public safety calls to peoples commute time.

Husband and Fat...
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Access road?

Ever since Rita's shut down, the only time I will travel over there is to go to Home Depot. Too much traffic for my tolerance level.

I can see why a gas station would do well in that location.

Not sure how any access road could be installed. Is there a plan floating around?

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