At Thursday night’s city council meeting, Fayetteville staff opened up the discussion with the public on proposed extensions of Lafayette Avenue and the road at the Habersham Office Park.
Initially discussed in 2008, the two road extension projects were approved as part of the SPLOST program at the time, but the funding needed for them was shifted for the higher priority work done for Hood Ave-Hwy 92. As the city continues to look at ways to alleviate traffic backups around the downtown square, the projects could be back in play. There was no vote to be made Thursday, just a chance to open up the lines of communication.
The Lafayette extension brought out plenty of opposition from Church Street residents and business owners. The project would see Lafayette Avenue extended across 85 and all the way to Church Street in a move that would also help beef up the grid system for downtown-area streets.
“Traffic studies in 2006 and 2010 both supported a grid-type pattern throughout the city to help relieve traffic in the 85-54 area,” said Director of Public Services Chris Hindman.
Hindman expressed a need for a new study to see how much the completed Hood-92 work has affected the area.
“Let’s see how traffic patterns have adjusted from 92-hood and the Kathi Avenue extension and make sure it’s still supported,” he said. “I believe it would be.”
Those living and working on Church Street expressed their fears that the Lafayette extension would only cause more problems for them.
“That’s going to be a major impact upon the residents of Church Street,” said longtime resident and Planning and Zoning Commission member Derryl Anderson, noting that she loved the new roundabout but estimated it had quadrupled traffic on Church. Anderson said she now backs into her driveway just so she can exit with a little less trouble. “I know things are changing here, but at some point you have to consider the residents. We’re all seniors.”
Anthony Porter said it would be shifting a problem.
“We can solve the problem over on 85m but you’re going to have even a problem on Church Street.”
David Mowell with Mowell & Son Funeral Home which has a back driveway empty onto Church, agreed it would only make problems worse with their parking lot already a popular cut-through.
“It will introduce a lot more, almost a thoroughfare through our parking lot,” he said, wondering what the benefit of the extension would even be. “I don’t know what we hope to gain by having another street, a very residential street, be infested with traffic.”
Hindman reiterated staff’s preference to do a traffic study in the wake of the Hood-92 work to see if either project still makes sense.
“I’m still hammering this in, we need a traffic study in the city,” he said. “Whether we do these projects or not, I still want to see the traffic flow since this project because it’s going to affect our grid pattern in the downtown area and what we choose to do there.”
Mayor Ed Johnson appreciated the feedback from residents and called it a key part of making the city work.
“We are open for a long and prolonged discussion if we need to,” he said. “It shows that a government that is of the people and for the people and by the people is a successful government.”