Smokey Rd. intersection proposals unveiled

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Two proposals to improve the intersections of Smokey Road and Old Corinth Road, and Smokey Road and Belk Road, were on display at a public information open house held Thursday at Newnan High School. Pictured are Tommy Crochet of McGee Partners and Jim McGuffey.

Two slightly different plans for improvements to the intersections of Smokey Road with Old Corinth and Belk roads were presented at a public information open house Thursday that was organized by Coweta County officials.

Both plans call for moving Old Corinth Road to the west in order to separate the two intersections. There would be traffic lights at both intersections. The lights may not be warranted when the project is completed, but they will be warranted soon after, so they will likely be installed when the project is built.

Alternative D, which seemed to be the preferred alternate among the very small group of local residents who attended, would line up Belk Road and Meadow Sweet Lane into a fourway intersection.

Belk Road would be moved slightly to the east, and Meadow Sweet Lane, which serves a subdivision, would be moved slightly to the west.

Alternative C leaves Belk Road and Meadow Sweet Lane where they are.

Both alternatives move Old Corinth Road so that it will intersect with Smokey just west of the Oasis Bar and Grill and CBS convenience store. The remaining part of Old Corinth will get a cul-de-sac.

Each intersection will have turning lanes.

Moving Belk and Meadow Sweet Lane will be more expensive.

The construction costs are estimated at $1.1 million for Alternative C, and $1.4 million for Alternative D. Alternative D will also require additional right-of-way.

The right-of-way needs for the project are not huge, and no homes will be taken for the project, though several homes will have smaller yards after the project is done.

The Coweta County Transportation and Engineering Department and the two consulting firms working on the project, McGee Partners and Wilburn Engineering, looked at many different possibilities for the project, including two roundabouts.

However, the roundabouts didn't function well, mainly because they would be too close together, according to Speedy Boutwell of Wilburn Engineering.

Computerized models on display at the open house showed how traffic would stack up with the roundabouts, and how it would flow more smoothly with traffic lights.

The two lights would be interconnected and actuated by signals in the pavement. The lights would typically stay green for travelers on Smokey Road, unless someone is waiting at the light, said Tod Handley, Coweta's director of transportation and engineering.

The area residents who attended the meeting agreed that something needs to be done.

'The traffic is horrible,' said Laurita Olmstead, and people on Belk Road have to pull out too far into Smokey to be able to see oncoming traffic.

The traffic lights 'should have been up a long time ago,' she said.

Kyle Lawrence said he's 'not crazy about' red lights, but he does like the proposed configuration. Lawrence said he's not typically traveling the road at peak times, so he doesn't see the traffic problems that other residents do.

He wondered if moving Old Corinth Road and leaving Belk Road alone would be sufficient. 'I don't know how much traffic comes off Belk Road,' Lawrence said.

Jimmy McGuffey travels Smokey Road every day, and the biggest problem is 'people just fly.'

He worries about leaving Meadow Sweet Lane unaligned. Traffic could back up with people trying to turn, and other drivers might not expect the stopped cars.

Jim McGuffey thinks the lights are definitely needed because of the amount of traffic on Smokey Road. He agreed with his son that speeding is a problem.

Jimmy McGuffey said that, when he leaves in the morning, if he doesn't leave early enough, it can be almost impossible to turn onto Smokey.

'The lights will be a huge help in the morning,' he said. And he thinks the addition of two lights might help slow drivers down.

It's expected to take another year to complete engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the project, and about 18 months after that for construction.

The project will be funded through the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.



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