Some business owners at the intersection of Highways 400 and 53 are not happy with the impact a continuous flow intersection will have on their businesses.
If you think for one minute I believe you care about these business, I know you dont, and everybody in here thinks the same thing, Big Ds Barbecue Owner Darren Muenchow said. If everybody on those corners believed this would help, McDonalds wouldnt be moving . . . and everybody else trying to figure out where were going to go because were going to be out of business.
Speaking to packed room on Thursday during the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon, three GDOT officials laid out construction plans and fielded questions about the continuous flow intersection (CFI).
Forty percent of fatal crashes happen at intersections where drivers are making a left turn and hitting another vehicle, GDOT Assistant Engineer Paul Denard said. Anytime we can get rid of those hazards, it helps from a safety standing.
James Askew, president of United Community Bank (UCB), near the corner of Highways 400 and 53, said he is taking a wait and see approach.
My son is 16-years-old, and it scares me for him to drive through that intersection the way it is right now, Askew said. I get why theyre doing this because I see a lot of accidents right at my office corner.
These (GDOT) folks are experts in their field and since theyre saying this is the best solution for us, we have to trust their judgement.
Denard explained how the CFI, also called a displaced left turn, works.
Left turns are going to be eliminated at the main intersection, Nenard said, explaining that left turn lanes will be moved further south on 400, away from the main intersection with Highway 53.
Drivers making left turns (from Highway 400 onto Highway 53) will cross over in advance and well away from the main intersection.
It will also eliminate the normal back up on Highway 400 of cars waiting to turn left onto Highway 53.
Once construction is completed, vehicles will not back-up on Highway 400 waiting for a green arrow to turn left.
They will move through at the same time as northbound traffic, Denard said.
Construction is expected to take two years with completion in April 2017.
CONSTUCTION IN THREE PHASES
GDOT Project Manager Kimberly Nesbitt laid out projects three phrases.
Phase I involves installing black silt fencing and relocating water and power lines.
Ive seen projects where this takes months, Nesbitt said. But we will have other work going on at the same time.
That work includes laying down temporary pavement on the east side of Highway 53 to keep traffic flowing, Nesbitt said.
Phase 2 involves working on Highway 400, and Phase 3 includes drainage, retaining walls, curbs and gutters.
Traffic will be maintained throughout the construction process, Nesbitt said. Well constantly be putting down temporary pavement to shift traffic, and lights will be timed instead of actuated Its not perfect but it will allow contractors to work. It may not be as efficient as it is now.
Phase 3 also includes erosion control with straw and temporary grass seed.
Any erosion or sediment from our project has to be kept on site, Nesbitt said.
PLANNING STARTED IN 80s
Planning for Dawsons CFI started in the early 1980s under a grant for Appalachian funds, according to Nesbitt. At that time, overpasses were being considered.
In 2007, we made presentations to Dawson County and to your reps about the effect this was going to have on businesses, she said. We actually received a letter in 2008 with concerns that . . . it could adversely affect operations, so we went back and studied the CFI.
Dawson Countys CFI is the first in Georgia.
I dont get why this thing is in Dawson County, Big Ds Darren Muenchow said. Traffic at 400 and Highway 369 in Forsyth is backed up five miles on 400 every day. Who made the decision this was going to put in Dawson County?
Muenchows question went unanswered.
UCBs James Askew said hes not happy with losing an entrance, which is located between the bank and McDonalds, but that he accepts it.
All the traffic that wants into this area is being dumped further up the road across from Burger King and near Goodwill, he said. My biggest concern is that there isnt going to be a light there. My business isnt an impulse buy like a gas station. People are going to find their way to us.