Traffic study offers solutions
The City of Madison received a draft final version of its year-long traffic and transportation study late Tuesday afternoon, but the eagerly-awaited study may yield a few surprises.
First recommendation? A Georgia Highway 83 bypass. Second recommendation? A Georgia Highway 83 bypass.
â€œWe do have a high dependency on our state highways,â€� said Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan.
The draft study identified a two-part State Route 83 bypass as the primary new roadway needed in the county. A bypass stretching from Highway 83 to U.S. Highway 441, â€œsomewhere in the vicinity of Lionâ€™s Club Road,â€� and continuing on from Highway 83 to Highway 441 north of town, could cost $77 million, says the city study.Â
In fact, said Madison City Council member Michael Naples, several council members and Georgia DOT officials discussed the possibility of Lionâ€™s Club Road improvements at a joint planning meeting in early July. It was at this meeting that state officials reportedly indicated that Sandy Creek Road and Apalachee Road would make the best interim truck routes.
â€œWe know that a bypass is years and years away,â€� said Naples. â€œWe asked [DOT officials] to look at a map and show us what we could do about truck traffic in the short termâ€¦they pointed to Sandy Creek and Apalachee Roads.â€�
Ultimately, the goals of the traffic study are to make recommendations aimed at maintaining and improving local transportation systems, while simultaneously protecting the â€œunique identity of the City of Madison.â€� The study also aims to designate a â€œhierarchyâ€� of local roads, based on their function and historical significance.
The study reviewed existing conditions and problems, garnering citizen input along the way. Engineers also made projections of future transportation demands.
Average daily trips on some roadways by the year 2030 may not sound too terribleâ€"48,000 cars traveling between Higway 83 and Highway 441 on Interstate 20 does not, perhaps, strike terror into the hearts of residents. But 1,110 estimated trips down Dixie Highway between Walker Street and Oil Mill Road could give even residents of unincorporated Morgan County a momentâ€™s pause. East Washington Street/Bethany Road, between downtown Madison and the bypass, could see more than 4,000 cars per day. West Washington Street, between Garnett Street and Pearl Street could see a whopping 11,000 cars and trucks per day within 20 years. And those numbers may be conservative, based as they are on volume growth of 1.9 percent per year.
Aside from a new bypass, the transportation study recommends a total of 24 other improvements to roadways within the City of Madison. Chief among these are the realignment of intersections on Main Street at the junction of Georgia Highway 278, Highway 441 and the Georgia Highway 24 spur; at Highway 278 and Highway 83; and at Hancock and Jefferson streets and Hancock and Washington streets in downtown Madison.
The study also includes recommendations for bike lanes (both sides of highways 278 and 441) and sidewalks (myriad locations); rail and transit improvements, a couple of intersection studies, and various policy recommendations regarding access to state routes (i.e., controlling curb cuts on busy roads).Â
In the coming weeks, a final version of the study will be completed, and city planners could be analyzing and using the accumulated data and proposed recommendations for weeks and months and years to come. The actions and improvements that come about as a result of this study could make like a little easier for residents of the city and unincorporated Morgan County for decades to come.
â€œ[This study] points out how important it is for us to engage in proactive traffic planning over the next 10 to 20 years,â€� said Callahan.