34 Bypass remains a work in progress
More than two years after it was supposed to be finished, and a year-and-a-half since it opened to traffic, the Hwy. 34 Bypass widening project in Newnan still isn’t officially complete.
The Georgia Department of Transportation hasn’t yet accepted the project, because the contractor, Sunbelt Structures, still hasn’t meet all of GDOT's requirements.
Until that happens, the roadway is still considered the responsibility of the contractor. Last week, crews from Sunbelt Structures were out cutting grass on the road shoulder.
“Sunbelt is still working on a few final punch list items, but they are very close to completion,” said Kimberly Larson, regional spokeswoman for GDOT, last week.
Once GDOT accepts the roadway, the speed limit will likely be raised, at least from Hillwood Circle to Hwy. 16 West/Temple Avenue.
“Paperwork was submitted this week to our Atlanta Traffic Operations department requesting a raise in the speed limit,” Larson said.
One of the issues keeping GDOT from accepting the road is the traffic signals. All signals must go through a “30-day burn” period.
During the 30-day burn, there can’t be any problems or malfunctions. If there is any issue at all, the 30-day period starts over.
“A couple of the traffic signals still have not completed the required 30-day burn,” Larson said.
Last summer, when GDOT officials discussed the likelihood of raising the speed limit along that section of the bypass, they were asked about the possibility of doing away with the dual-left turn lanes onto Hospital Road.
Because of the dual turn lanes, motorists must wait on a left-turn arrow, even if there is no oncoming traffic. That is known as “protected phasing.” When motorists get a green arrow cycle but also have the option of turning on green if there is no oncoming traffic, that is known as “permissive phasing."
In June, Scott Parker of GDOT said department officials had discussed whether or not there was enough traffic to warrant the dual turn lanes.
“After the contract is released and it is our road again, we will probably end up striping” over one of the turn lanes and “going to a permissive movement,” he said.
The project, which four-laned the bypass from Bullsboro Drive to Hwy. 16 West/Temple Avenue, began in August 2009. The original completion date for the Bypass project was Dec. 31, 2011. All lanes on the 34 Bypass/Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard opened to traffic in October 2012. One of the right turn lanes from Bullsboro Drive onto the bypass wasn’t opened until August 2013, because of delays in getting a new traffic signal approved and installed.