54W study remains in council gridlock
Yet again, the Peachtree City Council has punted a fairly significant issue following a messy exchange between council members that left some audience members shaking their heads in disgust Thursday night.
The discussion of traffic issues along Ga. Highway 54 West sprung a flat tire at the start when Councilman George Dienhart moved to deny a new traffic light on the highway at Line Creek Drive and also deny a developer’s unofficial request to link that development to Planterra Way.
Dienhart’s motion ultimately failed for lack of a second after it was noted that a technicality on the wording of the agenda item might prevent council from taking action.
The problem was that the agenda said council would “discuss” the traffic conditions on Hwy. 54 which implies that no action would be taken.
Instead of trying to convince his fellow council members to see it his way, Dienhart blamed them for failing to keep a political promise “to protect the residents of Planterra Way and Cardiff Park.”
Dienhart said the connection to Planterra Way would put kids in danger from cut-through traffic, and he blasted his fellow council members for working “behind closed doors” on a developer’s proposal to put a grocery store on the site at Line Creek Drive instead of working with the city’s economic development coordinator.
Councilmember Vanessa Fleisch said she limits her conversations with the coordinator in an effort to keep the employee away from “the political milieu that has derived from our dysfunction.”
Fleisch added that the coordinator has been busy working with existing industries on a host of other matters.
Later in the discussion, Fleisch advocated asking the Georgia Department of Transportation for a comprehensive study of the entire highway corridor, and she presented a suggested letter for council to approve that would jump start the process. That concept flew off the rail, at least temporarily, as Mayor Don Haddix said he hadn’t seen the letter prior to the meeting and that he wouldn’t sign a document he didn’t agree with.
Council ultimately tabled the matter to allow time for the letter to be massaged before it will come back up for a vote at the June 20 council meeting.
Another consideration offered by council was the possibility of asking businesses in the industrial park to stagger their shift times so a large flux of employees aren’t getting on the roads around the 5 p.m. drive time.
Resident Tim Lydell urged council to pursue the large-scale DOT study of the area.
“I ask you to please do that, and please tone down the rhetoric,” Lydell said. “Get along, shake hands, kiss and hug, do something different than what you’ve been doing, because what you’ve been doing ain’t working.”
The sentiment drew applause from several in the audience.
Resident Paul Lentz suggested council consider a “real-time adaptive system” of traffic lights that could be modified on the fly as traffic gets bogged down. Such a system could include the traffic lights on Hwy. 54 West and also on Ga. Highway 74 as well.
Lentz said a study by the Atlanta Regional Commission predicted in June 2011 that the trips between central Coweta County and central Fayette County would increase from 32,000 a day to more than 50,000 a day by the year 2040.
“The only candidate road for that traffic is state road 54,” Lentz said.