F’ville pushes pedestrian bridge over Hwy. 54 at hospital
A pedestrian bridge across the busy intersection in front of the Piedmont Fayette Hospital is back on the front burner.
The idea of installing a pedestrian bridge over Ga. Highway 54 into Togwatee Village Shopping Center ran into difficulty a few years ago and gave way to a lesser proposal of upgrading the intersection at street level.
And though a $400,000 grant through the Ga. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) was approved for that project, Fayetteville has renewed its interest in trying again for the larger pedestrian bridge project.
The grant award that would upgrade pedestrian access at street level across Hwy. 54 to the Togwotee Village commercial and residential development and install a multi-use path south to Lester Road was approved in mid-2011, though putting the project into play continues to require a significant amount of preliminary design and environmental work along with DOT approval, said Fayetteville City Manager Joe Morton.
The move to try again for the pedestrian bridge stems from a portion of the DOT approval process that deals with the speed limit along Hwy. 54. Morton said DOT wants to keep the speed limit at 55 miles per hour rather than lowering the speed to the 45 miles per hour the city believes is more appropriate.
“The grade-level improvements won’t be as significant as what we need and we won’t resolve the issues of pedestrians crossing the highway,” Morton said. “So we are discussing with DOT and Fayette County the idea of going back to the original proposal of having a pedestrian bridge (over Hwy. 54).”
Adding to the need to get approval for the pedestrian bridge is the recent confirmation that Pinewood Studios will be moving to Fayette County just a mile north of the hospital and the expectation that a number of the businesses supporting the studio will be located at Togwotee Village commercial center directly across the highway from the hospital.
“We already saw before Pinewood that we needed a lower speed limit (on Hwy. 54). Having a pedestrian bridge rather than the grade-level improvements would satisfy our needs,” said Morton. “So this is the opportune time to go back and revisit the proposal.”
Morton said the original pedestrian bridge grant proposal was a $1 million project compared to the nearly half-million dollar alternative request for grade-level work that was approved by DOT. Morton noted that the pedestrian bridge proposal will also include the multi-use path system that would connect Togwotee Village to the large number of homes on Lester Road a short distance to the south.
Morton said the work needed to revert back to the pedestrian bridge proposal is ongoing, adding that he expects a decision by DOT to be forthcoming in the near-term.
As currently approved, the grant award is through a federal Transportation Enhancement program administered through DOT.