Public hearing held on Poplar interchange

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Scott Tolar of Newnan Utilities,right, talks to consultant Chris Edmondson about the Poplar interchange project. Tolar was at the meeting to see how the project would affect Newnan Utilities' facilities in the area.

A small crowd turned out at Thursday's public meeting on the plans for the new Poplar Road interchange on Interstate 85.

The meeting was for public comment on the proposed project as well as comment on the 'environmental document' for the project.

Several of the attendees at the meeting were residents - or family members of residents - who live on Poplar between the interstate and the bypass. Some will lose their homes and lands to the projects. Those that remain will find things changed.

No access to Poplar is allowed within 600 feet of the interchange. Poplar residents will no longer be able to pull onto Poplar at all, though there will be a single 'right in' drive to a new access road.

The new access road will go in front of the remaining homes, and will have a cul-desac at the end. Residents will have to take the access road to the Newnan Crossing Bypass to leave their homes.

The driveway is a right-in only because allowing people to go out and possibly cross several lanes of traffic to make a U-turn would be too dangerous, according to Tod Handley, Coweta's director of transportation and engineering.

'I think everybody is in support of the project,' said Handley. 'There have been some questions about access.'

Handley said most of the people who came to the meeting were the same ones who had attended earlier meetings on the interchange project.

The project wi l l a l so include the four-laning of Poplar Road between Newnan Crossing Bypass and Newnan Crossing Boulevard. A portion of the boulevard will also be widened. There will be a traffic light for each side of the interchange. A light at the other entrance to Piedmont Newnan Hospital will be installed if warranted.

The project is designed to have capacity to last for the next 20 to 25 years, said Tom Karis with Clough Harbour Associates, the consultants working on the project.

'There's a lot of excess capacity at the day of opening,' Karis said.

Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and take two years.

'We look forward to this,' said Richard Crim, who lives near Thomas Crossroads.

Jane Chambless said Poplar Road is her main access to Newnan and she wanted to see how the project would be laid out. She's not excited about the additional traffic lights.

Many of the residents who will be affected by the project have lived in their homes for decades.

Howard Brown and his wife have lived in their home since 1956. Brown said he got an offer of $100,000 an acre for the almost four-acre tract, but they've decided to wait on something better. 

Curtis said they are OK with the change.

Terry Quigley's grandmother and aunt live just far enough away from the project that they won't lose their home, but will be near the cul-de-sac and increased traffic.

His grandmother, Clastelle Quigley, is not happy about the project.

'It will kill her if they have to move,' he said. 'They don't even want them to cut a tree.' It's the only land his grandmother has ever lived on.

Cindy Martin grew up on Poplar Road and was at the meeting for her father. The off-ramp will cut right through her father's land. It doesn't bother him, or her, she said. She hopes that he will come move next to her and her family when the project takes his home.

It will be sad to see the home she grew up in torn down. It won't be the first time her family has lost a home to a road project.

Her grandparents' home sat right where the interstate is today.

Martin was a young girl when the house was torn down.

'I can still remember when the tractors came,' she said.

Martin said she will miss seeing Brown's great-granddaughter ride her fourwheeler in the yard. 'We'll get her a new yard,' Martin said.



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