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DOT unveils new plan

Proposal for roads first of its kind

POSTED: March 17, 2010 4:00 a.m.

Representatives with the state Department of Transportation say proposed changes to the bustling Ga. 400-Hwy. 53 crossing could be the first of their kind in Georgia.


DOT lead designer Neal O’Brien said the plan, known as a continuous flow intersection, removes left-turning vehicles from the main traffic flow and allows longer green lights for motorists traveling through on Ga. 400.


DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said the project would fulfill two main objectives, increasing capacity to help motorists get where they need to go and doing so in the safest way possible.


“This is going to be the poster child in Georgia for doing that,” she said.


The “at-grade intersection” would move left-turning vehicles from the main crossing through left-turn lights several hundred feet earlier. 


The lights would then allow exiting vehicles to cross oncoming traffic and travel along the left side up to the main intersection. 


“Continuous flow intersections have been very successful in other parts of the country,” O’Brien said.


The changes also include lengthened double left turn lanes both east and west on Hwy. 53.


A similar proposal is being talked about in Snellville, though officials said right-of-way funding issues have delayed the project.


“We’re extremely excited about seeing this move forward in Dawson County,” said project manager Robert Murphy.


The local project would require minimal right of way and not displace any structures, he said.


According to Murphy, the project is expected to cost about a tenth of what it would have taken to build a “flyover” at the intersection


One of several options discussed over the past decade for the intersection, a flyover that would have elevated Ga. 400 traffic over Hwy. 53. A series of access roads would have also been added.


“We cannot afford an $120 million project,” Murphy said. “This will cost between $12 and 14 million.”


Once the design and land acquisition phases are complete, Murphy said the construction time would be about 18 months.


Pope said funding to acquire the land is planned for fiscal year 2011.


The DOT made the proposed changes public last week when officials reviewed the plan with intersection stakeholders.


Wendell Starke, a business and property owner, agrees something must be done.


“This is clearly a growing area,” he said.


A date has not been set, but the DOT plans to hold an open house next month so the community can see the plan and ask questions.


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