Hearing set on Conley Road expansion

By Ed Brock

Elizabeth and Mike Wolfe don't mind if the expansion of Conley Road devours their house.

"Not if I get a fair price on my house," said Elizabeth Wolfe.

"It's progress, man, progress," said Mike Wolfe.

On Thursday the Wolfes, and other residents or property owners along Conley Road, will be able to learn more about the Georgia Department of Transportation's plans to widen the road into four lanes. It's part of a larger project that involves Old Dixie Road and Charles W. Grant Parkway.

"The proposed plans call for a direct east-west corridor to and from the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport," said Kurt Ziegler, a member of GDOT's Office of Urban Design. "Working with Clayton County, we have designed this project to benefit the community in their continued growth and redevelopment efforts."

The plans include proposals to "grade separate" C.W. Grant Parkway under Old Dixie Highway and the Norfolk Southern Railroad lines and building a four-lane connector between C.W. Grant and Old Dixie. Old Dixie Road would also be realigned from the Interstate 285 interchange north to a little past Southwoods Parkway. Conley Road would be expanded from the west side of I-285 to Jonesboro Road meaning the bridge that carries Conley Road over I-285 would also have to be rebuilt.

"What they're looking at is construction starting in 2007 and it taking two years," said GDOT spokeswoman Rebecca Long.

Long said the state would have to buy up a lot of land for right-of-ways along Conley Road, and that could include the Wolfes' property.

Elizabeth Wolfe said her family has lived in the house for 11 years.

"I thought I'd be here until I grew old, but I guess not," Wolfe said.

The plans sound intriguing to William Fagan and Mike Chaney, part owners of the O2 Plus welding supplies company on Old Dixie near the Conley Road intersection.

"Sounds like it brings me more traffic," Fagan said. "We're in a business where heavy traffic is to our advantage."

At South Metro Transmission a little north of O2 Plus mechanic Robby Richardson was a little more cautious.

"We don't know what to think about it yet," Richardson said. "I don't know what they're going to keep and what they're not going to keep."

Across from the Wolfes' home stands the Paradise Church of God in Christ on the corner of Conley Road and Hendrix Drive. The church's Administrative Secretary Verlinda Stanford said she or somebody else will probably go to the hearing, set to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hendrix Elementary School just down Hendrix Drive from the church.

Stanford is not necessarily opposed to the idea of expanding Conley Road.

"It's really a busy area right here. They probably need those four lanes," Stanford said. "But they need to put a red light at the corner of Conley and Hendrix."

Those who can't attend Thursday's hearing can send written comments to State Environmental/Location Engineer Harvey Keepler at GDOT, 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, 30336-1593 or by going to www.dot.state.ga.us.