Bypass project paving way for interchange
by Sarah Fay Campbell
A quick turnaround on plans for the Newnan south bypass extension sent to Norfolk Southern Railroad bodes well for future submissions of plans for the Poplar Road interchange.
King Evans, transportation consultant with Clough Harbour Associates, gave an update on the plans submitted to the railroad at Tuesday's meeting of the Coweta County Board of Commissioners.
It can typically take a long time to get approval from railroads for any projects involving them.
The railroads have a rule that the Georgia Department of Transportation can’t "even notify them of a project affecting one of the tracks or bridges or anything until you are at 'x' percent complete," Evans said. "We're not even allowed to e-mail them."
They are at that point with the bridge over the railroad for the bypass project. The bypass will be extended from its current terminus at Turkey Creek Road all the way to Hwy. 16 East. Just past Turkey Creek, the road will go over the railroad tracks.
Under federal law, the railroad can take up to a year to approve plans, Evans said. But for these plans, the turnaround was a matter of days.
"That is a major event," Evans said.
Norfolk Southern contracts out its plan review, and one of Clough Harbour's employees in New Hampshire used to do plan reviews for the railroad. Evans sent the plans to that employee to have him look them over. "He said I would not have a single comment. Those are as good as any I have ever seen."
The new Poplar Road interchange will also include some work on a bridge over the railroad. Even though the railroad tracks are closer to Turkey Creek Road than they are to Poplar, the on-ramp for Interstate 85 South will be so long that it will touch the railroad bridge, said Tom Karis, project manager and vice president of Clough Harbour.
"We'll just have to widen that bridge to accommodate the shoulders," he said. “We've done the first preliminary bridge layout."
That will go to GDOT first and then to the railroad.
"We really saved a lot of time and money when our first submission went through with no comments," Karis said. "We really understand how Norfolk Southern works and we know how GDOT works and I'm very confident that we are going to have similar results with that next bridge," Karis said.