The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners are considering ways to improve traffic along Ga. Highway 140 before major state improvements that are still a decade away.
Cherokee County Community Development Agency Director Geoffrey Morton recently detailed for commissioners several locations along the road between Interstate 575 and the Fulton County line where improvements could be made that would alleviate some of the traffic issues currently seen on that road, which should prove beneficial until the Georgia Department of Transportation widens Highway 140 from two to four lanes along the entire length of the corridor in the future, estimated to be some time in the 2030s.
Morton said identifying priority areas along the highway began in February, starting with collecting traffic data, observing traffic flow and congestion conditions at peak periods during the week. Historical traffic volumes and crash data were taken into account as well, with all of this information forming a baseline to calculate future traffic growth and determine the locations in need of immediate action.
Morton said 19 short-term and medium-term projects were identified that could help in easing congestion and accidents on the highway and could be completed within the next 10 years. Of the 19, he explained that three were currently being pursued by GDOT as quick response and maintenance projects.
Those three projects involve installing a dedicated eastbound left turn lane on Ga. Highway 140 at the intersection of Hillcrest Drive, lengthening the westbound left turn lane at the intersection with Univeter Road and lengthening the northbound left turn lane where the highway intersects Arnold Mill Road.
Some of the short-term projects identified through the study included installing a traffic signal on Sugar Pike Road, creating a westbound right turn lane on Scott Road for traffic merging onto Highway 140 and upgrading the traffic signals at the northbound on-ramps to I-575, while the projects deemed mid-term included adding a westbound right turn lane on Avery Road, adding additional travel lanes and dual left turn lanes at the intersection of Highway 140 and Northside Cherokee Boulevard and adding additional travel lanes and rebuilding the horizontal curve between East Cherokee Drive and Hickory Road/Batesville Road.
Along with identifying these projects, the highway between I-575 and Fulton County was divided into areas of priority for widening on a scale of 1 to 5. Two portions of Highway 140, specifically the area around Arnold Mill Road and the Fulton County line, and between East Cherokee Drive and the Hickory Road/Batesville Road intersection, were listed as being of top priority, while the area between I-575 and Northside Cherokee Boulevard was designated as the lowest priority. However, it was noted that improvements to the highway near Arnold Mill Road would require cooperation from GDOT, Fulton County and the cities located along the Fulton/Cherokee line to complete.
When examining these potential projects, it was calculated that completion of the short-term and mid-term projects put forth by the county would cost approximately $22 million in total, with $5 million in short-term plans and $17 million for those considered mid-range. Some projects were estimated to be fairly inexpensive, such as $175,000 to add a dedicated right turn lane on Avery Road, $250,000 to install a right turn lane on Scott Road and $301,000 for a traffic signal on Sugar Pike Road. Others came with a greater price tag, including $2.7 million for additional lanes at the Northside Cherokee Boulevard intersection, $4.1 million to rebuild the horizontal curve between East Cherokee Drive and Hickory Road/Batesville Road and $4.5 million to add additional lanes at the intersection with Univeter Road, while a few did not have a specific cost estimate just yet, due to still being in the phase of being studied in more detail.
Officials said there may be grant money available that could help the county pay for some of the improvements.