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Some simple changes would improve traffic without new roads

The West Fayette Bypass will consume over $24 million. At our recent “Fayette Forward” forum, I offered more cost effective alternatives to facilitating traffic flow through our county:

1. Reprogram traffic lights. The most effective method of improving traffic flow and mitigating expensive road projects is to facilitate the flow of through-traffic.

Unfortunately, the majority of our traffic lights are programmed as impediments to through-traffic because they give first-priority to left-turn traffic, i.e., most give a green arrow first with through-traffic held on a red until completion of this cycle. Even after the left-turn traffic has completed their turns, the through-traffic often remains held until the turn cycle can “time out.”

It’s this extensive left-turn cycle that has become a major traffic generator in our county and beyond. Moreover, it makes no sense to be sitting at a red arrow, unable to turn left, with no oncoming traffic in sight.

This is especially frustrating when the switch fails to recognize your presence and the red arrow remains. If and when you get a green arrow, any oncoming traffic at that point must grind to a halt in order for you to turn when you would have been long gone if you’d been allowed to yield on a green.

If a light is green for through traffic, it should be a green (yield) for left-turn traffic. If you’ve ever run the gauntlet of lights on Ga. Highway 54 East out of Peachtree City or North Glynn Street in Fayetteville, you most likely share this common frustration.

Here’s a system that has worked with great success in other communities for improving traffic flow:

Give priority to through-traffic by adopting a “lag left” system. All traffic initially gets a green light. Through-traffic flows immediately. Left-turn traffic yields to oncoming traffic then completes turn. If any left-turn traffic remains on pavement switch at the end of the cycle, left turn arrow is provided and only in this instance.

Wasted time for left turn arrow is eliminated if all turn traffic is able to yield and turn left. Cross-traffic is then allowed to flow much sooner and in the same manner.

If a light is green for through traffic, it should be a green (yield) for left-turn traffic. Red arrows are thus completely eliminated, with rare exception for line-of-sight issues.

Have lights remain green on primary traffic arteries, with a minimum 20-second delay timer on switch for traffic intersecting from non-primary roads.

That eliminates light changing when right-turn traffic momentarily engages switch from a cross street, bringing primary route traffic to a halt for no reason.

2. Re-educate public not to drive in the passing (left) lane on highways unless passing or preparing to turn left.

A. In accordance with Ga. Driver’s Handbook Chapter 5.

B. Clogs traffic where cars behind are unable to pass.

C. Better enforcement of this rule by local authorities.

D. Consider placement of “Keep right except when overtaking” signs.

3. Strategic placement of turn lanes. Examples:

A. Right-turn lanes needed at Hwy. 54 where it intersects Hwy. 85 and Jeff Davis (both eastbound and westbound). Presently must sit through entire red light cycle, unable to turn even with one car in front.

B. Left-turn lanes needed at entrance to Smokerise Plantation and Kedron Hills in PTC. Presently, rush-hour traffic brought to a stop on Peachtree Parkway for traffic waiting to turn left.

These are but three suggestions that could be considered as viable and certainly less expensive alternatives to disrupting the rural areas of our county with major road projects. Contact the Georgia DOT at www.dot.state.ga.us if you agree or have suggestions of your own.

Ralph P. Trapaga

Peachtree City, Ga.

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