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Roundabout could affect school traffic

Hollis Hand Elementary School buses may need to take a different route when school starts back in August, due to weather delays affecting construction of the new roundabout near the school.

The Troup County Board of Education discussed the impact of the Broad Street, Country Club roundabout — whose construction has been delayed by higher than average rainfall this year — during its regular work session on Monday.

“We are very concerned from the transportation perspective on that roundabout,” Assistant Superintendent John Radcliffe said. “We have not been called or contacted about radius or anything on that, and with Hollis Hand (Elementary School), we have some big buses coming out of there. On day one of school, we are really concerned because an 84-passenger bus can’t take [the turn] coming toward town off of Broad Street currently. An 84-passenger bus can’t make the right turn and then an immediate left turn back onto Broad Street.”

Officials from the City of LaGrange were confident that the new roundabout will be able to accommodate school buses and even large trucks once it is completed, though they do expect some congestion due to the construction itself.

“There could be some slight delays while still under construction,” Public Services Director David Brown said. “However, if you research roundabouts, their popularity comes from the fact that they are safer than traditional intersections and move traffic more efficiently.”

During the planning process, the city consulted the Georgia Department of Transportation and other authorities to confirm that the project would not have a negative impact on large vehicle traffic such as school buses and tractor trailer trucks that deliver food to locations like Highland Country Club and Hollis Hand Elementary School.

“(The roundabout) should not affect bus routes when completed as it was approved by GDOT and an independent third-party engineering firm to accommodate even tractor trailers with 53 foot trailers,” Brown said. “We just had a progress meeting and if AT&T and Charter Communications move their overhead facilities as promised, and if the rain would stop, the roundabout could be completed by late August, early September.”

Due to the weather delays on the project, school buses will likely need to be rerouted on at least a temporary basis, though school board officials did discuss the possibility of those routes becoming permanent if buses encounter problems with navigating the roundabout.

“We are going to evaluate this week and most likely we’ll have to reroute somewhere along there, either back there through Piney Woods,” Radcliffe said.

He noted that rerouting would be less than ideal, but that the school board will have to find a route to get students to school.

Community Development Director Alton West assured that it is important to the city that they avoid congestion at popular intersections such as the Country Club roundabout, which is why efforts are being made to complete the project as soon as possible.

The school board expressed a desire to work with the city to find a solution to possible traffic problems, and the city confirmed that they have forwarded information on the project to the school system’s transportation department for review. The Troup County Board of Education is scheduled to meet again on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at 100 North Davis Road, Building C.