Highway 74 is on the brink of a renovation project to alleviate traffic congestion and spur peak performance. At Thursday’s City Council of Peachtree City meeting, a formal presentation was made to outline plans for the Highway 74 North Gateway Corridor stretching from Highway 29.
The comprehensive plan spans along the corridor through Fairburn, Tyrone, Peachtree City, and Fayette County. The project’s purpose is to establish corridor mobility and address transportation needs into the future. The planning process started last summer and the developers are now nearing the recommendation stage.
According to Pond & Company representative Richard Fangmann, the project is on course and is expected to ramp up soon. The general idea is to improve Highway 74 without any major road construction.
“The centerpiece is to gain efficiency on this corridor without having to do a major widening,” Fangmann said.
Fangmann briefed the city council on four principle recommendations. He addressed vehicle improvements, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, transit, and consistency framework contingencies. Each area was backed by an extensive study and model examples.
The biggest takeaway is the potential adaptation of the Superstreet concept. The concept utilizes RCUT and J-Turns at intersections for easy left or right turns. The RCUT is designated for signalized intersections and is an elongated turning lane that allows departing cars to access side streets prior to reaching an intersection.
J-Turns and Median U-Turns (MUTs) are used for vehicles at special intersections. J-Turns allows cars to enter the turning lane and make a “J” loop around to their side streets. MUTs allow for drivers to ride through an intersection and make an appropriate U-turn as needed down the street. MUTs work in places with a lot of crossover traffic.
“What we are trying to do is limit the amount of time someone is in the intersection,” City Manager Jon Rorie said.
Studies in North Carolina, Maryland, and Missouri have shown reduction in crashes using this Superstreet concept. For example, North Carolina has 13 RCUT intersections and have seen total crashes decrease by 27 percent and injury crashes decrease by 51 percent.
This could be a boon for Peachtree City. The traffic count near the Highway 74 North ranges around 36,600 cars per day. The ability to ease congestion helps limit the amount of time drivers spend waiting in traffic.
“They not only reduce the number of these crashes, but the severity of these crashes,” Fagmann said.
Another benefit is the cost of the Superstreets. The developers have estimated that its potential costs sit around $18 million for the project. The plan is significantly cheaper than adding two more lanes to Highway 74, which would cost $36 million.
“The purpose of the RCUTs is to try and remove the left turns as much as we can,” Fagmann said. “It does create some out of the way travel, but overall it does enhance the safety.”
Along with the Superstreet concept, the project includes multi-use trails on the east side of Highway 74. The elements help preserve the green space and the aesthetics of the corridor. It also improves pedestrian crossings at the improved intersections.
For residents in Fairburn, there will be a new Park and Ride lot that connects to a MARTA bus line. Developers believe that it can help promote carpool and vanpool options near the Interstate 85. Lastly, the project is coming up with standardized concepts for signage and access management.
The next steps in the process require the public’s help. Fagmann said there will be a public comment period for feedback and suggestions from October 22- November 26. The hope is that a final report can be completed by the end of the year.
Residents can view updates on the Highway 74 North Corridor plans at www.fayettecountyga.gov/transportation-planning/sr74-corridor-study.htm.