GDOT talks potential changes on Lafayette Parkway

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

During the LaGrange Council work session on Tuesday morning, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) sought support from the city on several potential changes to Lafayette Parkway (SR 109) near the I-85 on and off-ramp and Callaway Church Road.

District 3 Traffic Engineer Daniel Trevorrow outlined several traffic congestion and safety changes proposed for SR 109 and requested the city to sign off on the potential road improvements.

GDOT is attempting to be proactive because of the upcoming changes to the area including the JP Travel Center expanding from the current Marathon and Dunkin Donuts as well as the Inland Port, Trevorrow said.

Trevorrow noted that GDOT is not seeking financial support but would like written support, partly because it’s conventional, but also because the funds needed exceed typical caps for these types of improvements.

“Districts can do their own projects, but projects are capped at $200,000. Historically, about 10 years ago, that would go a long way. You could put in a whole new traffic signal. Now you can barely buy the polls and pay for the labor for a traffic signal for $20,000. It costs about $400,000 for a signal today,” Trevorrow said.  

The first proposed change is a left turn lane coming off I-85 south onto Lafayette Parkway. 

Trevorrow said the location has seen 85 crashes since 2015 with 57 percent of those crashes causing injuries, with the majority being rear-end collisions. Most people, 85 percent, turn right into LaGrange, he said.

GDOT would like to do a full signal upgrade for the turn as well as a pedestrian upgrade with a crosswalk.

For the northbound onramps, GDOT is proposing an entirely new traffic signal. Trevorrow said there have been 40 crashes at the location but they are typically angle crashes that produce more fatalities.

Trevorrow said the new signal project would likely include a widening of the left turn lane into LaGrange as well as work on the concrete median.

The only controversial change proposed was what Trevorrow called a Reduced Conflict U-Turn (RCUT) intersection in front of the Marathon gas station.

It would allow left turns in heading out of town from Lafayette Parkway but would not allow left turns or crossing movements from the driveways to the south so they would have to turn right go and do a u-turn and go the other direction, Trevorrow said.

City Planner Mark Kostial said that Jones Petroleum, owners of the upcoming JP Travel Center, voiced concerns that they would prefer to maintain their access to turn right or left from the location and declined to provide a letter of support for the change.

Councilman Mark Mitchell also voiced concerns for the nearby LaGrange Beverage Outlet, saying they have delivery trucks coming in and out every day.

Mitchell said that he would support the change if both businesses signed off on it.

“I’d ask that you reach back out to them to make sure they are going to be okay with it,” Mitchell asked.