Officials seek public input on projects

By Michael Davis

The state is preparing to begin more than $6 million in road improvement projects in the northeast portion of Henry County during the next fiscal year, Georgia transportation officials said last week.

Turn lanes, traffic signals and intersection realignments are all on tap for the portion of the county served by Ga. Highway 155 in the Miller's Mill and Kellytown road areas--a mostly rural residential area 10 -15 miles north of McDonough.

But they need your help. The Georgia Department of Transportation will be holding its final public input meetings on three of the five projects next week at an elementary school in the heart of where most of the construction will take place.

Transportation officials say all of the projects are geared toward making the intersections safer.

"All of these projects are really under the umbrella of safety improvements," said Marc Mastronardi, a GDOT engineer.

Three of the projects, which are set to begin construction during the 2006 fiscal year (which runs July 2005-June 2006), should be finished within 18 months after they begin, said GDOT spokesman Bert Brantley.

One project, which would block access to Miller's Mill Road from Ga. Highway 138, will not begin until after another project is finished: a $1.9 million-project to add right turn lanes and a traffic signal at Ga. Highway 138 and Flat Rock Road. Residents of Miller's Mill Road will have to continue on Ga. 138 to the Flat Rock Road intersection, then turn right to get home.

Brantley said that while the intersection of Ga. 138 and Miller's Mill is probably the most dangerous of all the new projects, it was important not to block it until the Ga. 138-Flatrock Road improvements are made. The intersection is currently a two-way stop on Flatrock.

"This is all good news to me," said District IV Commissioner Gerry Adams, who represents the district where most of the construction will occur.

The total estimated price of all of the construction proposed is more than $6.1 million, Brantley said.

But one project, not slated to begin until the 2008 fiscal year, has not been estimated.

That project calls for shifting Ga. Highway 155 to the west around Ozias Primitive Baptist Church, a historic church in the Kellytown area, and realigning it to meet Moseley Road at a right angle. Transportation officials say a 90-degree intersection is much safer than an intersection on a skew.

There are currently three intersections in the area at Ga. 155, all within yards of another.

The project also calls for Reagan Road at Pleasant Grove Elementary to be shifted south at Ga. 155 to meet at an intersection with Ford Drive, which is currently unpaved.

GDOT officials said the project is still in a preliminary design stage and they are particularly interested in the public's input. They said GDOT will have at least one more meeting on the project as the final design is set.

Another project will add a traffic signal and turn lanes on all four sides of the intersection of Ga. 155 and Ga. 138. The intersection is currently two-lanes all around and controlled by a four-way stop sign.

State Transportation Board member Dana Lemon, who represents the 13th Congressional District on the board, said GDOT often gets a bad reputation for not listening to residents' concerns. She hopes meetings like this will help to change that.

"We are making a very strong and genuine effort to get information out to the public," she said. "The intent is to improve traffic, improve safety and not change the road just for the sake of making changes."