By Valerie Baldowski
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is in the early stages of redirecting traffic on two major Henry County roads -- a portion of Jonesboro Road, and Ga. Highway 20/81.
Plans are to transform parts of Jonesboro Road, and Ga. Highway 20/81, into an east-west one-way pair, said Dana Lemon, a 13th Congressional District board member for GDOT.
The Henry County road project is on a list of statewide road projects which will be funded through $350 million, that the Georgia Department of Transportation has in reserve funds, continued Lemon. The board voted on Dec. 9, to approve the list, she said.
The money is part of GDOT's "Special Job Creation Preservation Effort" to get people back to work, said Lemon.
Currently, both roads are open to two-way traffic.
The work will involve creating a one-way pair, 220 feet west of the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing on Jonesboro Road, to 2,100 feet east of Henry Street, on Highway 81, said Lemon.
Officials have not set a groundbreaking date for the construction. The state is in the process of acquiring the right-of-way, before any work starts, said Lemon.
"It takes 18 months to two years, usually, to purchase [rights-of-way], so typically it's two years out from when they purchase right-of-way," she said.
The estimated cost to purchase the right-of-way for the work is $4,246,000, said Jill Goldberg, deputy press secretary for the Georgia Department of Transportation .
"This is an early step in getting the project moving faster, by being able to use part of the reserve funds to go ahead and buy the additional land for this project," said Goldberg.
The work will improve traffic along those two roads, she said.
"According to the Need and Purpose Study, this project is needed due to increased traffic in the downtown area," continued Goldberg. "In 1996, traffic around the McDonough Square averaged about 19,500 vehicles, but it is projected to have 32,000 vehicles by 2012. The increase in traffic causes lower operating speeds, and a higher accident rate. The goal of the project is to significantly improve traffic flow in McDonough."
The Georgia Department of Transportation considers local requests it receives, to determine which projects are high priority, she said.
"As to how projects come to the department, we receive project proposals from local governments, community improvement districts, regional commissions, economic development groups, and even citizens," added Goldberg. "Any project request that the department receives is looked into and evaluated, through a rating system. Once a project is scored high enough to be included, it then faces more steps such as preliminary engineering, environmental, funding and more."