PTC Council opts for 54W ‘committee’

Faced with the possibility of a sixth traffic light along traffic-choked Ga. Highway 54 West in Peachtree City — and a proposed development that could make matters worse — the City Council has decided to give negotiation yet another try.

Councilmembers Vanessa Fleisch and George Dienhart were informally appointed to a group Thursday night that would include citizens who live in the area with the goal of working with the developer of The Overlook shopping center, which will be located at the intersection of Hwy. 54 and Line Creek Drive.

Dienhart, however, is adamant that he will not budge on his position that the intersection should not be allowed to add a sixth traffic light to the area, and that the median should be closed.

Fleisch’s approach to the matter was a little different. She advocated Thursday night for a traffic study of the entire corridor which could cost about $39,000.

The benefit of the city undertaking the study is that it wouldn’t have to take the word of a traffic engineering firm hired by the developer ... and there can be ideas for improving the continuous logjam for westbound traffic that often backs up all the way to City Hall during not just afternoon commute times but also on the weekends.

Council agreed by consensus that the corridor traffic study could be pursued if the study committee recommends it.

Because the highway is owned by the state, it’s a near certainty that any solution for the traffic logjam must be approved and funded by the state. Which likely means any meaningful solution is years away.

City Engineer David Borkowski confirmed that if the corridor traffic study has specific remedies for traffic on Hwy. 54 West, the next step would be to have construction drawings made while working with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission to get it on the list for future funding.

Resident Mike Lorber said he felt the previously-scuttled extension of TDK Boulevard into Coweta County is a viable answer to provide an alternative to the mostly Coweta traffic that gets stuck in the daily Hwy. 54 logjam.

Mayor Don Haddix brushed away that idea, saying that landowners on the Coweta side of the road have plans for more than 2,000 homes and commercial development that will negate any benefit.

Lorber also inquired about the status of the extension of MacDuff Parkway, which would conceivably provide a way around the super-busy intersection of Ga. Highways 54 and 74, a big choke point for westbound commuters on a daily basis. That project, which includes a multi-million dollar bridge over the CSX railroad tracks, is at a standstill along with the private development that was to fund it, officials said.

As for The Overlook, Dienhart said the developer told him that a grocery store, later identified as Publix, wants to locate there, but it needs the new traffic light at Line Creek Drive as well as a separate road connection to Planterra Way. The road connection to Planterra is strongly opposed by neighbors who want to prevent even more cut through traffic from entering the Planterra Ridge subdivision.

The city has already approved a conceptual plan for The Overlook that would allow a RaceTrac gas station, and a plan is under consideration for a Chick-fil-A restaurant immediately next door.
Dienhart said he was told by the developer that a more profitable “plan B” wouldn’t need either the traffic light or the connection to Planterra Way.

One consideration is likely to be how much more traffic a grocery store might add to the area as opposed to whatever is in the developer’s Plan B scenario, which was not divulged at Thursday night’s council meeting.

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