Transportation update plans now completed
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Coweta County’s recently approved update to the Joint Comprehensive Transportation Plan includes $673.4 million in road and bridge projects to be done over the next 30 years, as well as proposed bike and pedestrian improvements and transit projects.
The plan, the result of 15 months of work by consultants working with members of the public and the staff of Coweta County and the county’s municipalities, was recently approved by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners and the Senoia City Council. The county’s other municipalities will review the plan in the upcoming weeks.
The county’s current and future land use, current needs, and projected growth were used to determine which projects would be included in the plan. There were several public meetings held, as well as a “stakeholder” advisory committee and transit advisory committee.
Coweta has experienced dramatic growth in the past several years, and it’s predicted that there will be a 95 percent increase in population from 2010 to 2040, said Tavores Edwards, Coweta’s transportation manager.
The plan update builds on the original CTP, approved in 2006.
A project needs to be included in the plan to qualify for state or federal funding.
The plan includes two new Interstate 85 interchanges, at Poplar Road and Amlajack Boulevard Extension, 11 new roadways, five roadway widening/capacity projects, 25 “operational upgrades” to roads, 40 intersection modifications, seven operational/capacity “corridor improvements," 30 bridge upgrades, and seven improvements to railroad crossings.
In the end, the plan didn’t include any recommendations for widening or upgrades to Ga. Hwy. 16 between the Coweta/Spalding County line, and U.S. 29 South.
“We know something will have to be done in the future,” Edwards said. “But this needs to be looked at on a corridor level, a regional corridor level, not just Coweta County."
The new roads in the project are the extension of Coweta Industrial Parkway to the Amlajack Boulevard Extension, the Amlajack Boulevard Extension to serve the proposed new interchange, the Madras Connector from Amlajack Extension to U.S. 29 and Happy Valley Circle, the Hollz Parkway Extension — which also serves the proposed new interchange — extension of McIntosh Parkway from downtown Newnan to Newnan Crossing Bypass, the downtown extension of Andrews Street from Augusta Drive to East Washington Street, extension of Campus Drive at West Georgia Technical College, extending the Newnan Crossing Bypass south to Hwy. 16, a U.S. 29 connector from U.S. 29 north of Moreland to Bethlehem Church Road, Vernon Hunter Parkway from McIntosh Trail to the TDK Boulevard Extension in Peachtree City, and a new roadway north of Senoia from Ivy Lane to Hwys. 74/85.
The plan also includes 14 specific bicycle and pedestrian projects. The plan emphasizes “filling in the gaps” in the sidewalk network in cities and activity centers, prioritization of the Greenway Master Plan segments, “complete streets” evaluations for roadway projects, “share the road” signage on bicycle routes, bicycle racks for commercial and industrial developments, and support for municipalities’ plans and projects.
“Complete Streets” include facilities for bicycles and pedestrians. The Georgia Department of Transportation “has adopted a complete streets requirement, if we receive funding from them,” Edwards said.
The bicycle and pedestrian projects include a bike route connection to Chattahoochee Bend State Park, expanding the existing bike route along Franklin Highway to the Newnan City Limits, rehabilitating the Bridge Street bridge in Senoia for bike, pedestrian and golf cart use, installing sidewalks in Moreland, a Chattahoochee Hill Country Regional Greenway Trail System pilot project, sidewalks along the Hwy. 34 Bypass to connect key destinations, sidewalks along Shenandoah Boulevard, sidewalks or bike paths along Lower Fayetteville Road, a multi-use path along Hwy. 34 from Newnan to Peachtree City, sidewalks along Lora Smith Road to connect the schools to the subdivisions, a sidewalk connection between existing sidewalks in downtown Sharpsburg and East Coweta High School, a bike route on Gordon Road to connect two existing bike routes, sidewalk connections on Main Street in Senoia from Couch Street to Johnson Street, and sidewalks on Main Street in Senoia to Hwy. 16.
Some city bike and pedestrian projects aren’t listed in the CTP.
The plan is designed to meet Coweta’s needs through 2040. Projects are divided into short-term, mid-range, and long-term projects. The total cost of all the projects is estimated as $673.4 million.
Projected funding was also identified in the plan. The funding is less than the projected cost: $415.9 million. Funding for short-term projects is $160.7 million, mid-range project funding is $131.6 million and long-term funding is identified as $123.6 million.
“The funding for projects these days is pretty darn difficult and uncertain,” said consultant Rod Wilburn, whose company worked on the plan. “We don’t really know what is happening at the federal level,” and GDOT doesn't really know what is “happening in terms of state pass through funds.”
The Atlanta Regional Commission, which serves as the transportation planning agency for Coweta, requires counties to identify “aspirational projects” that don’t have any funding identified, “and then those that you can fund,” Wilburn said.
Even though there is not enough identified funding for all of the projects in the CTP, “we don’t plan to say any of our projects are just aspirational,” Wilburn said. “This reflects what would be needed to support that almost doubling of the population over the next 25-plus years."
Hopefully by the 2020s and 2030s, “some of the federal and state level funding will be clarified,” Wilburn said.