Towne Center and 78/124 Intersection Discussed at Town Hall Meeting

It was standing room only at Wednesday night’s Town Hall meeting at Snellville United Methodist Church. In addition to the mayor and city council, city manager Butch Sanders and Economic Development Director Eric Van Otteran were on hand to answer questions and present information.

The first topic discussed was the “Concurrent Flow Intersection”, (concurrent meaning straight-through and left turn move at the same time) also called the “Displaced Left Turn” intersection. This project will be constructed, by the Georgia Department of Transportation, (GDOT) at the junction of Highways 78 and 124. The advantage of the CFI design is that it allows straight-through traffic and left-turning traffic to proceed at the same time. That means vehicles traveling on Highway 78 will clear the intersection faster. In turn, wait time for traffic on Highway 124 should be shortened.

One area of confusion is that the acronym “CFI” was originally said to represent the term “Continuous Flow Intersection”. That’s an incorrect description. Although right turn lanes may be able to flow continuously, depending on traffic volume, traffic flowing straight through the intersection, or turning left, obviously has to stop to accommodate cross-flowing traffic. You can see a video of a “Concurrent Flow Intersection” on the city’s Downtown Development Authority’s web site (www.snellvilledda.com .

Construction at the intersection is scheduled to begin in the summer or fall of 2017. A Representative of GDOT stated that two lanes in each direction would remain open during construction. That eased the concerns of some people who anticipate an increase in traffic cutting through the Nob Hill and Harbour Oaks neighborhoods.  Mayor Tom Witts suggested the use of temporary barricades and signs to discourage cut-through traffic and audience members suggested the installation of Stop signs as a means of discouraging people from cutting through residential neighborhoods.

The next topic was the Towne Center. Snellville has never had one, residents want one and the City Council is addressing that. Last year, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Agency held some public input sessions to find out what people preferred for the look and feel of a Towne Center. The results of those sessions have been compiled and citizen input is still being gathered.

Actual development of the Towne Center will be done by private developers. However, the city owns several acres of property, and is therefore able to control development so that it meets high standards.

Obviously, development costs money and some people viewed that as meaning property taxes would increase. Mayor Witts explained that he wasn’t in favor of raising taxes and that through careful and efficient budgeting, the city had built up cash reserves to cover the costs that would be incurred by the city. Councilman Dave Emanuel explained that the city isn’t in the construction business, it’s in the business of creating an environment that’s attractive to private developers. He also stated that one of the benefits of commercial development is that it increases the tax base and that helps keep residential property taxes at current rates, or potentially lower them.

The last topic of the night was the public market and library that’s being discussed as part of the Towne Center. Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender discussed the plan to move the library from its present location at Briscoe Park and expand and update it. The current proposal calls for a three-story building with a public market on the ground floor, the library on the second floor and offices or classrooms (for a satellite college campus) on the third floor.

I want to thank Kurt Schulz and Mickey Wilkinson for contributing to this article.

If you have some thoughts about the Towne Center, go to the city’s web site and join the conversation- http://www.snellville.org/Forums/Thread.aspx?pageid=95&t=6~1

 

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