GDOT approves Poplar Road, I-85 interchange

The Georgia Dept. of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday issued an approval for the concept plan required to move ahead with the full-diamond interchange project at Poplar Road and Interstate 85. The approval means the design plan can be developed and right-of-way acquisition areas identified.

The DOT approval came three weeks after the Coweta County Commission amended the agreement with consulting firm CHA to include the scope of services for the preliminary design phase for the planned interchange at I-85 and Poplar Road, the location of the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

County Administrator Theron Gay said the current agreement with CHA covered the planning and design necessary to obtain state and federal approval. The amendment added the scope of services for the preliminary design phase work to the existing agreement, Gay said.

Gay said the DOT approval on July 10 paves the way for the commission to hire an engineering firm to develop the design plan and the location of the full-diamond interchange that DOT prefers so that right-of-way acquisition areas can be identified.

DOT approval means that a tentative timeline for the project could have engineering for the interchange completed in approximately one year and right-of-way acquisition 18 months later.
As for funding, local efforts will come from the local 1-cent sales tax in the amount of $15 million. The project will also require state and federal funds that are expected to be forthcoming as the interchange project process continues to unfold.

The area in which the interchange will be located has already seen dramatic changes. What was once open land on the east side of I-85 and just south of Poplar Road is now the location of the 100-acre campus of the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital that opened in May. 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.

Indications of that emergence are already beginning to take shape. When Piedmont Newnan opened in May, it did so with a 125,000 square-foot medical office building situated adjacent to the hospital. That large office building was leased-out before it opened.

Also in May, ground was broken for a 40,000 square-foot medical office building across Poplar Road from the hospital. Sixty percent of the office space in that building is already leased.